The Year of the Monkey 2016 was the first year that NYC public schools had off for the Lunar New Year. When the Mayor made this announcement before the school year began, I admit I grimaced at the thought of having to find childcare for yet another school holiday, particularly since Winter Break would begin just one week later. But you know what? I juggled my schedule so I could take part of the day off and the kids and I had the best day celebrating the new year in Chinatown. Our first stop was the firecracker ceremony. I’ve never been to it before, but I had a strong pull to go this year, probably because it’s a traditional ceremony to ward off evil spirits – and now I know how! More than 500,000 firecrackers are set off in a thick white cloud of smoke for 15 minutes and it was loud as hell. Rather impressive, though I swear I suffered from some minor smoke inhalation from standing too long in the haze, but it felt right because I figured I could use a good ‘ole scaring off of evil spirits this year.
After slurping down some delicious soup dumplings, we spent the afternoon chasing confetti in the streets. If you’ve never been in the middle of a confetti storm, I urge you to shred some colorful paper and throw it over your head with glee. Why is this so much fun? I have no idea (although maybe not having to clean up after ourselves has something to do with it). Seeing all the bits of color and sparkle raining down on you, especially on a gray cold day, lifts the spirits and makes you think that this year will be ok.
And it will. For the first time in a long time, I’m free. I haven’t been able to breathe easy in a while, but I just closed a chapter in my life. I can breathe.