Chinese New Year is a holiday that is particularly close to my heart.
A lot of people know I grew up in Hawaii but they probably don’t know that my grandmother was half Chinese. Her father immigrated to the Hawaiian Islands from Mainland China to work on a pineapple plantation in the mid-1800s.
Needless to say, I have a lot of Chinese relatives.
And they love to celebrate Chinese New Year.
My childhood memories of Chinese New Year involve, first and foremost, lots of Chinese Aunties (That is a formal designation that is appropriately capitalized. Does anybody know what I am talking about? Imagine a lot of older women with dyed jet black hair piled on top of their heads, blood red lipstick on their lips sitting ensconced in the living room holding court). Yes, our annual Chinese New Year activity involved a whole evening at Auntie Mabel’s house, where all the grown ups went around passing out lai-see and saying “Gung Hay Fat Choy!”. All the kids stuffed our faces with the most incredible food you could possibly imagine and some of us snuck into Auntie Mabel’s bathroom to gaze with longing at her stunning collection of red lipsticks.
Lucky for me that I have not, in fact, completely left this part of my life behind.
Since Calvary is near the corner of H and 8th Streets, NW, in Washington D.C.’s Chinatown, this coming Sunday afternoon our whole neighborhood will be celebrating Chinese New Year (one week late, by the way–rain delay). The annual Chinese New Year celebration in Calvary’s neighborhood includes sidewalk booths, a parade, loud music, lots of food and a whole lot of visitors.
I am betting there will be a whole bevy of Chinese Aunties with red lipstick, too.
Our Director of Youth and Outreach, John Mein, spent some of his growing up years overseas but, as far as I know, has never really regularly celebrated Chinese New Year like I did. He doesn’t share my memories of red lipstick and lai-see, so when he began thinking about ways in which Calvary could participate in the party, it seemed obvious what all the folks shivering their way through the beautiful Chinese New Year display needed: hot chocolate!
Of course we also know that they also need to know about what is going on at Calvary, about the programs reaching out in the city, about our authentic and reverent (usually) worship, about Calvary’s wonderful new facility opening up any day now, about the possibility and opportunity and hope that radiates through the construction dust, about the opportunity to explore what it means to live as part of a vital, intentional community of Christ in downtown D.C.
Yeah, they need all of that.
But with the temperature forecast for a high of about 46 degrees Sunday, chances are they might need some hot chocolate, too.
Hey, if you’re in the neighborhood, put on your best red lipstick and stop by. And if you want to help out, email John Mein.