the eve of chinese lunar new year

My brother, center in blue vest

As I look outside my hotel window, it’s a bit dreary and overcast and there’s a light drizzle that seems to come and go at whim. No matter rain or shine, today marks a very special occasion for my family in Taiwan. It is the eve of the lunar Chinese New Year, and I will be reunited with my birthfamily this evening. I will meet my older brother, as well as an Uncle and his children, the spouses of my two sisters, and the children of my 2nd sister for the first time. It will be a momentous occasion, one to remember always. My elder sister made plans for this evening before I even arrived in Taiwan. I’m so happy that we will celebrate and welcome in the New Year together, and am so grateful for all that my two sisters have done for me since my arrival here in Taiwan.

It’s now 8:00 pm, and my sister rings to tell me that all are waiting downstairs for us. My heart makes a giant leap. First, she asks to come up to my room to deliver something special. She arrives bundled in her silver jacket and hat, umbrella in tow, and it’s obvious that it’s raining outdoors, as the special items she has brought show evidence of rain droplets. First, she hands me a gift from my brother, John. It’s specialty teas from Taiwan and next she hands me another gift filled with a bag of candies, apples, and jewelry significant to the New Year. The gifting never ends, and my family has been more than generous. This afternoon, I wrapped gifts for each of my 10 family members to present this evening. Small tokens from the U.S. and the state of Arizona. I hope that they like them, though I feel they are so insignificant compared to what I’ve received.  The special gift my elder sister gives me is remarkable. It’s a handmade stamp with my Chinese name. The stamp is quite beautiful; a deep, dark shade of red and at the top in the form of a dragon. The set includes a small, round beautiful blue and white porcelain container of red ink. It is so special, and I am deeply moved by the thoughtfulness and generosity of my sisters and family.

Elder sister with Mr. Fortune

We head downstairs to meet the rest of the family and to the restaurant. My brother, the eldest among the 4 of we siblings, tells me, “nice to meet you,” and shakes my hand. My sister introduces her two children, and I’m introduced to Uncle and my 2nd sister’s sister-n-law, my two sisters’ spouses, and my Uncle’s son and daughter. They are all so welcoming. I tell each, “nice to meet you,” and immediately wish that I knew more Mandarin. We stop to take pictures, including pictures with Mr. Fortune who is dressed in full costume. After 45 years, we are finally reunited. I am overwhelmed with feelings of gratitude, happiness, and joy.

We head into the dining room. The spirit of festivity and celebration is in the air. There are many other families gathered together. I hand out the gifts I’ve brought from home to each member, or couple, in my family. Soon, one course after another is brought out, and by the end of our dinner, I’m stuffed. Many toasts are given to the elders at the table, and “welcome home, Marijane” is also toasted several times. I am moved when my Uncle, now the eldest in our family, comes to sit next to me. I try my best to understand what he’s saying and understand the significance of his gesture to speak with me as the brother of my biological father. He tells me that he doesn’t know what his brother would say now that I’m come back, “he’s not here.” As he continues to speak, Uncle’s eyes appear to be watering, although I can’t be sure. It seems as though he is on the verge of tears, his voice and lips trembling. Later, my elder sister confirms that he was quite emotional and that he is a very kind-hearted and gentle man. His beautiful wife died after only 6 years of marriage, and he was left to care for his 2 children on his own. Uncle says that he wishes to give me something, that I’m part of the Huang family and asks if I’ll accept it. My Uncle then hands me a red envelope. I’m again overwhelmed with gratitude for my family and their great generosity towards me. I give him a big hug and thank him. I truly feel at a loss for words.

My 2nd sister’s sister-n-law, L and Uncle on R

My birthfamily

As the evening continues, there is much lively conversation, more toasts, and I feel like this is the most amazing homecoming. I want so much to honor those in my birthfamily as they have honored me. I vow that next time I visit, my Mandarin will be much more up to par. As the evening comes to a close, I’m elated that we had this time together. I didn’t take as many pictures as I wanted, as I was so caught up in the moment. However, my sister will send more to me – her husband took numerous photos throughout the evening. I am so grateful that my family has welcomed me home. I never in a million years dreamed of such an occasion. It’s almost more than I can bear to have to leave by the end of the week. For now, I will enjoy this time with them. May there be many more celebrations in our future.

9 thoughts on “the eve of chinese lunar new year

  1. Lori

    Xin Nian Kuai Le! What an awesome story! I stumbled upon your story while trying to find out how to send a gift certificate to my sister who has lived in Taipei for 5 years. We’re from Texas, so I totally get the southern side of you. 🙂 I have had such tears of joy reading your story, and I hope my sister understands why she’s not getting a gift anytime soon. I think I ended up going back to the beginning of your search! So, so thrilling and this life story has made my day. Happy Chinese New Year to your entire family. I can’t wait to see how your journey continues!

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    1. Marijane Post author

      Thanks for stopping by Lori! I grew up in Louisiana, right next door to TX. How does your sister like living in Taipei? Happy Chinese New Year to you as well and your family! Take care!

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  2. jules

    happy happy tears for you!! What a moving post and your journey just gives me goosebumps!!! I love that your sister gave you a chop….we had one made for Hayden when we were in Taiwan and I love it and hope she will too when she understands it was carved by hand and has her Taiwanese name….which by the way my Hayden is a Huang too!!! Huang Ching-Wen:)

    What a life changing experience and Just couldn’t be happier for you. I hope when you return your family will go and meet everyone and experience what a beautiful country and what beautiful people you find in Taiwan….we LOVED Taiwan. Your comments about your Mandarin confirm to me that Hayden already being in Chinese school and her exposure to Mandarin has been a wonderful decision and while she is welcome to learn any additional languages we will not offer dropping Mandarin as a choice(we were not planning on it anyway….but you have confirmed this decision)

    Thanks for coming by to visit us at our blog!!! Again you have an open invite you and your family to meet us all in chicago this summer. I am thinking we will have between 40-50 families this summer!!! It will be even more awesome than it was last summer:)

    Enjoy the rest of your time!!! Wishing you a Xin Nian Kuai Le and as I said before your year is off to a GREAT start!!!

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  3. Sarah

    I have a huge grin and tears rolling down my face as I read about your dinner with family. So happy for you, Marijane! Sending you wishes for a healthy, happy and prosperous new year! Xin Nian Kuai Le!

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  4. i-chwen

    Hi Marijane, I can’t thank you enough for sharing your story with us! As an adoptive mother who grew up in Taipei, I have laughed and cried through the chapters as I follow your blog! I am also praying one day, my daughter will have a chance to meet her birth family and be welcomed with open arms. Enjoy Taiwan and happy new year!

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