traditions, or what happens when your parents come over

January 3, 2010 |  Category:   family growing up half holidays


It happens every year on New Years Day. My parents come over, sometimes bringing other members of family, and the minute they step inside the apartment a flurry of activity takes over. Shoes and coats are off, grocery bags are plopped down on the kitchen counter and pots of water get put on the stove to boil. This year my mom called me from the car to tell me to put the water on so that it would be in a boiling state when they got there. That’s planning! That’s wasting no time!

The threat of snowy icy weather made this year’s visit questionable and so when the weather looked clear in the morning, I breathed a sigh of relief from nearly missing the traditional rice cake soup that is supposed to bring good fortune for the new year. ‘Cause you know that if something bad were to ever happen this year the superstitious Asian in me would immediately think back to New Years Day when we didn’t have that soup. Now, however, I can blame it on something else.

This year my parents also brought over traditional clothing for the formal New Years bow to your elders ceremony, except we only had 1 dress from when the girls both dressed up for their 1 year banquet birthdays (it actually only fits Claudine now). Alright, if having 2 girls close in age ever taught me anything, it’s the fact that you can’t just bring 1 thing that both the girls might want. We learned this lesson when we were at a mall last Christmas and bought Mia fairy wings and figured that they’d both share it, but this ended up with Claudine in tears and a trip back to the store. Now there’s a big fat freaking “what the hell were you thinking only buying 1 child fairy wings while coming empty handed for the other?!?”.

As soon as my parents swarmed around Claudine and got her all dressed, Miss C marched to our room like a woman on a mission to admire herself in the mirror. Mia wasn’t too pleased that there was no fancy Korean dress up clothes for her which is why she’s missing in so many of these photos, but this ain’t nothing that a little Good Fortune money can’t fix. I joke, but when we were kids and my cousins and I were subjected to bowing down before all our elders – and I say subjected because it often turned into a laughfest for the adults to see how the kids butchered the bow which has to be performed a certain way depending on whether you were a girl or boy – we’d count our money to see how we made out. Sounds crude about the money, but we totally earned it. Btw, the girls did not have to bow down to us or my parents which was a bit odd to me as I thought they would start the tradition this year, but apparently my parents just wanted the photo op (tsk tsk, I’m on to you mom and dad).

We also made a reference to the other side of the family by playing Mark’s grandmother’s ukulele while the girls performed the hula. No, Mark is not Hawaiian, but his mom was raised there, so close enough. Besides, I think all of us wish we were Hawaiian, especially Mia.

And just as they came in, my family left in a blur of coats, bags and activity and that is how we spent our New Years. What about you? Any New Years traditions that you MUST do, lest you be afraid of being struck by lightning and bad fortune?

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  • v January 3, 2010 at 6:11 pm

    we ‘have’ to get up early and go for walk later on so we active all year:) Claudine looked lovely …Happy New Year!

  • ChantaleP January 3, 2010 at 7:02 pm

    Oh, the last part of new year’s traditions made me feel bad. We totally left my mom to her own devices this year (no mandugook!) and instead, headed to the french quebec (hubby) part of the family. You know, basically, lots of wine and meat. lol. I love C’s hambok. Beautiful. I also love the hugging pic! Now THAT’S sisterly love!

  • sooshi January 3, 2010 at 7:07 pm

    Claudine looked adorable! And I love the hugging picture, it’s too cute.

  • sarah January 3, 2010 at 7:42 pm

    Such adorable pictures!

    New Year’s in one of the most southern things about my life: my mom makes Hoppin’ John (black eyed peas for good luck) and collard greens (for prosperity) with bacon (cause it’s southern). I also made a pillow case this year, which is apparently a midwestern thing? So I should be extra lucky in 2010.

  • Yoon Jung January 3, 2010 at 8:42 pm

    laughed at your mom telling you to boil the water from the car–something my mom would do. Mia got $70? Not bad! Everything looks so lovely. Happy New Year!

  • ninja January 4, 2010 at 12:24 am

    Love love love that hugging picture!

    No bowing to the elders ceremony in our house, but we teamed up with other half Korean families for a DIY Mandoo making party on January 1st. The kids loved it and there was ?? as well, for good luck.
    ?? ? ?? ????!

  • quyen huynh January 4, 2010 at 1:24 am

    Oh my, the picture of Claudia hugging Mia is precious! The look on her faces says it all!

  • Jen January 4, 2010 at 2:10 am

    So adorable. 🙂 Luckily for me, I never had to dress in traditional Chinese outfit or anything… but for Chinese New Year we had to visit relatives and we had to say phrases that is good luck to older people… and we do get some red pocket too.

  • Chai Ling January 4, 2010 at 2:42 am

    I love the 1st and the 3rd photo 🙂 hahah… what are my Dos and Donts? As a Chinese young lady, I must say we have a really long list, from head to toe.

    Many of the Chinese traditions involved water (for Chinese, water = fortune). We are not encouraged to wash hair on the first day of New Year, the oldies believe good luck will be washed away. Do not break anything, esp things like bowls and plates. On wedding day, the heavier the rain pour, the better the marriage will be!

  • ranee January 4, 2010 at 4:19 am

    wow…. girls, you’re so rich =)

  • nichole Robertson January 4, 2010 at 10:25 am

    Fun! Claudine looks so cute in those clothes.

    The Pennsylvania German in me fears bad luck if I don’t eat the traditional pork and sauerkraut. My mom calls me every year to make sure I ate it, and I feel really bad (and a bit nervous) if I don’t eat it.

    Problem is, Evan can’t stand the smell of the kraut, which stinks up the whole house.

  • mrs boo radley January 4, 2010 at 11:45 am

    No traditions here…yet.
    Love the water bottle toast!

  • Michaela Dawn January 4, 2010 at 12:02 pm

    Oh Heavens, I adore your sweets!!!!!

    Its been one of my most favorite purchases on etsy this whole last year, Our family shared with other families through the days that we had a few morsels left and you better bet they where all intrigued, and so I finally looked to see if you have a journal and am so gleefully surprised you do, so hello there, and I am utterly sure I will see you in the wind again!

    BTW: Stunning Imagery! Your photography looks as sweet as your treats taste! EYE CANDY INDEED 😛


  • Christie January 4, 2010 at 12:26 pm

    All your pics are great, but I love the hugging one and the one of Claudine admiring herself in the mirror. 🙂 The water bottle toast is very cute, too. The only thing we do before Chinese New Year is clean the house and we don’t shower or wash our hair on New Year’s day (for fear of washing away all the luck that “lands” on you). 🙂

  • laura January 4, 2010 at 1:43 pm

    Black eyed peas. I guess it’s a southern thing, but we have to have black eyed peas on new years day – for luck. We go so far as to give one pea to each of our dogs too. Silly, but we never miss it!

  • kribss January 4, 2010 at 1:59 pm

    while i love your posts about korean traditions it makes me sad that i’m missing/missed out on my own heritage. love your images of the girls- so sweet!

  • leslie January 4, 2010 at 2:06 pm

    You captured the moments perfectly! Such a lovely day!

    P.S. I missed out on my good luck soup this year. . . uh oh!

  • Courtney January 5, 2010 at 10:46 am

    As per usual, your girls are adorable and the pictures of food always makes me hungry! Happy New Year!

  • Kim March 31, 2010 at 10:52 am

    Bit of a late comment here, but these are amazing photographs. They capture the mood so well.