Gung Hay Fat Choy

We live in a very Asian neighbourhood, and I’m guessing that the vast majority of the kids in Andrew’s school are Chinese.  When I was in school (in a much smaller city that at the time seemed to have few Chinese people - in fact there wasn’t all that much cultural diversity when I was a small child) we heard about Chinese New Year but it was never something we would think to celebrate, even in school it was rarely even talked about that I can remember.  So I’d never really thought to celebrate it until Andrew asked why we don’t, because they were doing activities to honour it at his school.  His class made little paper lanterns with goats on them (in honour of the year of the goat) (I hung his up in our kitchen, and he also made me one for Valentine’s Day) and they sang a song called ‘Lantern Bright’ in front of their whole school for their Chinese New Year assembly last week.  They sang it in Chinese, and while he practiced for the big performance the past few weeks, Andrew taught the song to me (and the girls can even sing part of it, too!)

Because of his interest this year and the things he’s been learning at school, I thought it would be fun to take Andrew to the Chinese New Year festivities in Vancouver’s Chinatown today.  My brother and sil live on the cusp on Chinatown, so he and I took the skytrain downtown (which in and of itself was an adventure...we used to transit everywhere together before we got our van (and had twins), but I almost never transit anywhere anymore so it was a different experience for Andrew and I - he’s used to bussing with James but not with me since he was 3.5!) and went for a little visit at my bro’s before we headed out to the celebrations.

I’d wanted to take Andrew into one of the shops to get him a little Chinese trinket, but we didn’t see anything that made sense for him, and then during the parade he got a lot of little red envelopes with candy inside, some tattoos and stickers, and a couple of gold chocolate coins, so that seemed like a pretty good array of stuff.  We didn’t bother to find a spot and just stay there waiting for the parade to begin, Andrew was happy to just wander about and we ended up finding a good spot where a nice father of 3 kids offered to let Andrew sit on the curb in front of where they were standing, so he got a really good view (and that’s when he also scored all the loot!)  Some of the time he also spent on my shoulders for a better view, when we were wandering around.  It was a good parade, a lot bigger than I’d expected it to be.  We saw lots of cool dragons (of course), fire crackers, some cool martial arts, and several familiar faces from the news, which was kind of cool.

Once Andrew had seen enough we were both feeling quite hungry so we hit up HON’s for some yummy Chinese food.  One of the dishes we ordered was stir fried broccoli with minced garlic and it was seriously the best broccoli I’ve ever eaten.  Of course, by that point we were both so hungry that I think it tasted extra delicious because we needed food so badly.  We shared several dishes, with enough left over to bring home so we could all have it for supper (which was awesome, because that meant I didn’t have to make dinner!)  We really had a fun time together and Andrew seemed to genuinely enjoy himself.

We popped back over to my bro and sil’s for a little visit before heading on our way back to the ‘burbs, so I got to see my bulldog nieces and one of my kitty nieces as well.  

I think what was most special about the day for me was that Andrew and I did something new and different for our mommy/son time.  We’re usually at home and if we do go anywhere it’s to the dollar store or something along those lines, which there’s nothing wrong with but it’s not exactly a cultural adventure!  This felt like something special to do together, and it was a beautiful sunny day, too, which definitely added to the whole experience.  I’m so glad that we were able to go, and have some quality mom and boy time, while James had some quality time at home with the girls.


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