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It is pretty wonderful to be elders living out in the hills of the California Sierras and be able to share New Years with families from China. Eight friends came for an overnight celebration and a fine one it was.  Minfeng and Wiedong are dear to us as their infant daughter, Francisca, won a special place in our hearts in her all too brief life on earth.  She brings us together in the spirit across  cultures and across the world with the love of our children  that unites families everywhere.

We celebrated  Chinese New Years a month early as they brought and prepared the full traditional meal, beef bone  soup and three types of delicious traditional  dumplings. We learned that red is worn for that holiday  to scare of the monster, Niam, who haunts the day and hates fire  crackers (so they are set off in abundance), while grandparents give “lucky money” in red envelopes to the children.   We  danced to beautiful piano music by the young men present, sang ‘Silent Night’ and other songs around the tree with candles lit for loved ones on the other side. Vanessa brought a gift of her art of paper cutting with an original design of red  monkeys for the “Year of the Monkey ” coming up! They brought us delicious Chinese delicacies, including a cookie called “Buddha’s Hand” as it is the strongest possible hand as the Monkey King found out in his arrogance. We learned that story and how Buddhism came to China where it endures despite years of communism.

More warm, unhurried conversation and sharing followed at breakfast on New Year’s Day and Gordon always impresses visitors with our building and his test flying of our airplane.  He taught the enthusiastic teenagers lessons in driving the stick shift pickup and they helped us split and carry in firewood. Seven year old, Ding Ding, can count us his ‘American’ grand parents and he loves to come to the ranch.  So it is, one by one, we begin to know each other and forge the bonds of friendship. We began this New Years Day by reciting together the prayer of St Francis with the beautiful universal thoughts in those words that promote the peace, joy, respect and spirituality that can unite us all. Happy and blessed New Year!


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