It’s New Year’s Eve in much of the world today and I’m getting ready to celebrate here in California. I haven’t celebrated this holiday much since Hoat died. He always used to whirl through the house on this day; cleaning, preparing the meal, putting flowers in vases, getting the incense ready, cooking the chicken and the sticky rice. He had everything ready by midnight, when he put the food and flowers on the cold porch to lure out all the bad spirits and feelings that had settled in with us during the year. The smell of the food and incense would attract the good spirits in the neighborhood and they were invited when we brought the food back in. Then we would feast. I know he missed his native Vietnam and the family he gave up to be with us. I love ritual and this particular holiday is one of my favorites.
It’s been nearly eight years since he died and in recent years I’ve let the holiday go by without much notice. This year I’m getting ready to meet our daughter MaiLynn in Vietnam and all things Vietnamese are interesting me again. Mai is already there, celebrating with the friends she’s met on her journey to discover what being half Vietnamese means to her. This holiday, I hope, is bringing her closer to an answer. I’m traveling some of this journey with her.
So, in a house I share with a Jew, an atheist and a non-practicing Catholic, I’ll be doing the ritual tonight. I’ll be cleaning my room, making a meal for the spirits and staying up late to honor memory and the journey forward.
Happy New Year!
photo URL: http://www.flickr.com/photos/motiqua/6764067835/