Sunday, February 18, 2007

chinese new year

The Chinese often have a raised ledge across doorways to keep out the evil spirits (an old tradition, and in all the palaces we saw raised ledges so high you needed steps to get over them). The doorway in our hotel room has a small raised ledge, as well as the door in between the bedroom and bathroom, but that one was a much to keep the water in as it was to keep the evil spirits out. It took several days for me to get into the habit of stepping up higher as I went through doors to avoid stubbing my toe into the ledge. The first day here, though, I had no such habit, and the first thing I did on Sunday morning was stub my toe. Hard. So much pain.

Church was our first activity of the day, and because my skirt was knee length, and because we were riding the scooter, I opted to wear my long-johns under my skirt so that I wouldn’t flash all of Tainan. Don’t worry, though, because that kind of kooky fashion made me fit right in.

After church we quickly changed and then went to his aunt’s for the New Year celebration. We burned incense and said a prayer for his ancestors (at least I think that was what was happening) and then sat around chatting for a while before dinner was served. Well, everyone else was chatting. I was mostly just smiling a nodding like I’d been taught to do.

The Chinese also burn fake paper money as part of the celebration. The money burned goes to their dead ancestors.

After dinner, Somebody’s aunt and mom and cousin’s wife were chatting about my stubbed toe and decided I needed a little Chinese voo-doo to help it heal. Voo-doo hurts. It mostly involves rubbing the injured areas to increase the blood flow to speed healing. And hard rubbing on an injury makes me cry, which I did, right there in the living room with all his relatives sitting around. Good times. The amazing thing is that I think it actually worked, because the swelling went down immediately, and I could walk normally again in only a day or two.

That night we went to the train station to pick up my parents, took them back to the hotel, then over to Somebody’s parents, then we all went home for an early sleep to help us recover from our mild jet lag.

Things I want to always remember:
* How relieved I was to see my parents finally get off the train.
* Watching the correct way to pour tea, and being so fascinated by the hierarchy and rules associated with the tea
* Mahjong—the real way

Things I will never forget:
* Everyone watching me as I tried new foods.
* The powerful smell from the incense and cigarette smoke.

1 comment:

Karla said...

I laughed out loud and MaKaylee started laughing because I was. Your poor toe!