Celebrating the Chinese New Year

When was the last time you did something for the first time?

As a person gets older, the first times dissipate. At the beginning, of course, everything is a first — first step, first word, first tooth, first birthday, first day of school, first night away from home, first date, first kiss, first job, first apartment. When the obvious firsts are gone, there are others to look for, such as first overnight hike, first cross-country trip, first mortgage. And then there are the other firsts that no one should ever have to deal with yet all of us do, such as the death of a loved one.

After the firsts come the seconds and thirds and the ho-hum of having done everything so many times before, that it seems as if there are no firsts left. And yet there are more firsts — at least I hope there are.

What made me think about all this is that just yesterday was the last time I did something for the first time — I celebrated the Chinese New Year.

This Asian holiday is something I’ve never before celebrated, never even considered celebrating. After all, I’m not Chinese or from Chinese ancestry, so it didn’t seem right to be glomming on to another culture’s traditions, but yesterday I was invited to join the celebration by my friend who does have a Chinese heritage. We didn’t do much, just dressed in red and went to a Chinese restaurant, but that seems to be the main way of celebrating — family, friends, and food.

To make sure I didn’t commit any major faux pas, I looked up Chinese New Year and found that the Chinese don’t call this holiday “Chinese New Year,” which makes sense. That’s like us calling our January 1st celebration “American New Year.” They simply call it New Year or Spring Festival. The problem with calling this Lunar New Year a Chinese New Year is that many other Asian countries also celebrate a lunar new year. Luckily, since my friend is of Chinese heritage, my calling it the Chinese New Year (as she did) didn’t offend her.

Anyway, it was nice starting this particular new year by doing something new, and it was it was especially nice celebrating the newness with good friends and good food.

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Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator.

Happy Lunar New Year

In honor of the Lunar New Year (Chinese New Year), I looked up my Chinese horoscope, and oh, my! People who cast star horoscopes generally try to put a good light on their predictions, but apparently, the same is not true of Chinese horoscopes. Mine for this Lunar New Year is: “Your horoscope is not very good at all. Your career development will be hindered. Your financial fortunes are not optimistic. You need to consider carefully to weigh gains and losses before making decisions. Your health luck is not ideal. Do not drink alcohols too much. But don’t be too worried, otherwise your situation will only get worse and worse.”

Really? Sheesh. I might as well go to bed and stay there until the next Lunar New Year.

There is the gentler star sign horoscope, however, to balance this rather dismal prediction, though looking closer, both horoscopes say the same thing.

Instead of: “Your horoscope is not very good at all,” the stars say: “All your daydreams could come crashing down. You won’t want to face the realities that slowly creep in. You’re tougher than you seem, though, so having to face the music can be a blessing in disguise.” Sure sounds as if I’m in for a rocky time.

Instead of: “Your career development will be hindered,” the stars say: “This can be a time for working on a project in advance of a launch date. You may be in a processing or hatching stage with a venture.” In other words, my career is going nowhere. To be honest, that’s to be expected. Although a publisher accepted my latest manuscript, I don’t have a publication date and I don’t expect one until the latter part of the year. And, although I have a book stewing in my brain pan, I have yet to write a single word.

Instead of: “Your financial fortunes are not optimistic,” the stars say: “You need to set aside enough money to meet unexpected expenses.” Well, so much for my financial fortunes this year!

Instead of: “You need to consider carefully to weigh gains and losses before making decisions,” the stars say: “You need to refrain from making major decisions in money matters, and you are not to incur any major expenses.” Oops. Too late. A garage isn’t exactly a minor expense.

Instead of: ‘Your health luck is not ideal,” the stars say: “Health issues may come to the fore. There can be some strains on mental and physical health.” That doesn’t sound appealing, but hopefully, being careful and taking care of myself will offset some of this not-so-good health luck.

Instead of: “Do not drink alcohols too much.,” the stars say: “You might often be tempted to escape your everyday responsibilities and challenges, and should avoid reliance on drugs or drinking.” Does that mean I have to forgo my single yearly Bailey’s Irish Cream toast to my mother? But, by any calculation, a single drink can’t be considered either “too much” or a “reliance on drugs or drinking,” so I think I’m safe.

Instead of: “Don’t be too worried, otherwise your situation will only get worse and worse,” the stars say: “The cosmos asks you now to surrender some of your attachments and to surrender to the unknown. Releasing control is necessary. You could feel that you are dealing with endings more than new beginnings in some areas of life during this transit, as you let go of outdated attachments. With self-discipline, you could find more joy and confidence.” So, basically, this is a year of not so good luck for me, but I shouldn’t worry, or it will get worse. Okay, got it.

The stars, at least, offer hope. “This is a time when you are filled with ideas about the future. You are planting seeds, so to speak, aiming to get started on projects that will reap rewards in the future. For the most part, you are likely to take advantage of this period in your life in order to expand your social life and friends base as well as to dream up exciting new paths for the future.” Apparently, if I can’t have good luck this year, there is always next year.

Fortunately, horoscopes have never reflected anything that has ever happened in my life, and despite this rather interesting research project today, I don’t expect these horoscopes to be any different.

So, let’s all have a happy Lunar New Year!

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Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator.