The holidays have come, and are now going. This was my first year celebrating the Chinese New Year since coming to China, or ever for that matter. The first year I was here, I was travelling, and didn’t do anything for the holiday. Last year we were in Canada for the N.Y. So, this year I took part in the family fun with XX’s family.
First things first, my wife’s immediate family is slowly warming to me. They don’t like me much, but that is a step up from their active dislike of me at first (and long after), so baby steps. It was nice to be welcomed this year rather than “The foreigner.” They continued to call me that long after we were married, until XX growled at them one day.
XX: “Don’t call him foreigner, he is my husband, and your son (-in-law).”
Fam.: “He doesn’t understand what we’re saying, so it doesn’t matter.”
XX: “Just so you know, he 100% knows what we are talking about right now.”
She’s right, I could.
After that conversation, they call me Sh-awn, which is what I prefer to be called. Anyways, so, this year I was to be included in the family get together. They even talked to me (mostly through XX translating), which they didn’t like to do before. So, a win for being accepted as the son-in-law, instead of, “That foreigner who is going to A. use you for sex, and divorce you, or B. take you to another country to sell you.”
They really said this, even after we were married.
Back to this year. How was it? it was pretty good. We went for a New Year’s Eve lunch at her parent’s place. We had dumplings, which I like. We laughed, and talked. Her brother talked to me… only the second time he has done that. First time was to offer me a cigarette a while back. The kids were running around playing with fireworks, so it was a constant, “Bang, bang, bang,” blasting through the air around us. It was a fun day. We headed home with a bag of dumplings that night, and tradition said we should have them for breakfast on New Year’s Day, and while they are boiling set off some fireworks her brother gave us.
The day after N.Y. (I call is New Year’s Boxing Day) we went back to her parent’s place for the big visit. We brought red pockets (envelops with cash) for the kids, and gifts of food for the family. We brought rice, flour, sweet breads, milk, wheat milk (milk with grains in it or something), porridge, and a few other things. Then we brought (mostly) the same to her father’s brother’s family next door. In the afternoon we went to visit her 90+ y.o. grandmother with some gifts too.
We had a big meal to celebrate with the family who came from Shanghai, and little cousins, brother’s family, and parents. It was a fun time, with good food, and a happy family.
It is nice to start feeling like a part of the family here. While I am ok with being considered an outsider, I feel bad for XX. Many in her family would have been happy if she had married a Han person from China (my wife is Han, as is 90% of China). Her parents would have been happy if she had married a person from China, regardless of being Han or not. Instead, she married me, and has to deal with some naysaying about it, still. I try to do my best to reach out, but we also don’t want to shove me down people’s throats, so we are finding the balance. That being said, “Third Aunt,” has always supported us, and her nephews have always liked me, so that’s something.
Her family doesn’t give red pockets to adults, they think they are just for children (I don’t know if this is the norm, or a family thing). The exception to this rule is, first year of marriage gets one. Since we were in Canada last year, this was our first year of marriage, which means we got a red pocket from her uncle (father’s oldest brother), and one from each of her parents. Hurray! We will be using those for our trip this summer we can’t afford (because we are trying to save to buy a house), because gift money is supposed to be fun money.
This is enough for now, but I’ll probably write more about a couple other experiences from the N.Y. later. Happy New Year Everyone!