Today has been noticeably different, and it’s not just because the weather turned cold after an unusually warm CNY last week. Stepped out the door, walked onto the street, and the first thing I saw was… people. A bunch of school buses and passenger vehicles all lined up, waiting to drop their kids off at school. My street has been pretty quiet for the past two weeks for the CNY holidays, but today it’s officially over. Here we are – another step closer to our usual routine of life.
The sudden increase of people on the MTR during my usual commute to work also made me realize, so much of this morning commute population is comprised of kids. Schoolchildren. Back at home in Vancouver, most people live close enough to their elementary/high school to walk or bike. Here in Hong Kong, it’s not surprising if your elementary school is a 90 minute commute away. There’s always such huge competition for schools, and geography is never too important of a criteria when people are choosing schools (or schools choosing people, unless you live at The Peak or something). Anyway, there were a lot of kids going to school by themselves, but also a bunch with domestic helpers to commute with them, so immediately that makes for a much more densely packed subway train.
Apparently, this whole CNY celebration thing is “officially” over on the 14th day of the Lunar Year; one day before the Lantern Festival, or the ‘Chinese Valentine’s Day’. There really isn’t anything wrong with continuing the festivities after that date, I guess, aside from it “being like saying Merry Christmas now” (quoted from a friend). By the way, I just found out yesterday that this Lantern Festival is actually a day to celebrate the first full moon of the Chinese New Year. And I never noticed this, but you actually can’t see the moon on the day of CNY. I guess I should have known, but you don’t really think about these things just randomly.
With all that being said, it shouldn’t be surprising when I tell you that there were still more red pockets to receive at work today! Obviously, for us in the unmarried population, red pockets are always the best part of Chinese New Year. But staring at my huge stack of envelopes for this year, I think I might be one of the only people to say, I truly appreciate the red envelopes themselves more than what’s inside. As part of the tradition, the envelopes represent a blessing from the older, married generation to the next generation of unmarried kids. Sure, money is great, but for me: I came to this city half a year ago knowing only a handful of people, and like all the other beginnings that I’ve experienced, it was scary. It has now been five months into my term here, and this CNY is like a report card. It gave me an opportunity to open my eyes to all the people that God has placed in my life; to look out and care for me. A hefty sum of red pocket money simply means that you know a lot of people that are well-off, but a abundant stack of red envelopes represent all the people that want to bless you in your life. That in itself is the biggest blessing from God, and once again I am humbled in his love.
The best part is, blessings are free! Wouldn’t it be great if we could give out red pockets everyday? – in the form of kind words, helping hands, and acts of love.