The Year of the Rabbit

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Today marks the first day of the Chinese New Year. As you may know, the Asian new year is based on the lunisolar calendar and celebrates the spring season. In reading up on it, it sounds a bit like our American Thanksgiving where you gather with family and friends and reflect with gratitude on our lives. In the Asian countries it marks the end of the winter season. The evening before is commemorated with a Lantern Festival and there are many cultural rituals and customs to be done to bring in a happy and healthy new year. I will suggest that you google some of them. I don’t want to give out the wrong information on a culture that I do not belong to. I can tell you, however how we, as non-Asian Americans celebrate the Chinese New Year in our house.

One fun feature of googlingChinese New Year” or “Year of the Rabbit” is there is an animated fireworks display across your screen with an accompanying bunny. It is very colorful and fun. Mesmerizing to watch.

I’ve done it three times now.

Typically, the New Year begins between January 21 and February 20 on the new moon. This year it starts today. It was first mentioned during the Han Dynasty which flourished between 202 BCE and 220 CE. It was written that the celebration included worshipping the ancestors and toasting their parents and grandparents.

We don’t go overboard in our house; we’re not of Asian descent, but we love to enjoy multicultural holidays and usually (if not always) celebrate with food. We’ll get take-out from our favorite Chinese restaurant. I think the last time we had take-out was for Christmas Eve which is our yearly tradition. One year, we took the kids to the local Chinese buffet – it was my daughter’s first new year – she had been born that year on the 5th of January, so she was a tiny baby, but cutely dressed in red with a bow on her head. They gave the kids red envelopes for luck and there was a dragon dance through the restaurant around the tables along with a train that traveled just below the ceiling. It really was a special time for the kids. They loved it.

At home recently, we’ve been enjoying barbeque chicken tenders in Hoisin sauce. It’s my version with Chinese spices and sauce. It’s funny because my daughter is quite picky and won’t really eat a lot of sauces or dressings, but she loves the hoisin sauce as well as the sesame chicken she gets from the restaurant. I also do a great fried rice, and now that I’m thinking of it, maybe I’ll whip that up some time this week. I’ll need sesame oil and I already have the eggs; those are probably the biggest expense.

The bunny picture that I’ve shared above is one that we’ve seen in our backyard. I think because we don’t have dogs, the rabbits tend to congregate in our yard. We even had babies in a burrow one spring. This one is probably the biggest rabbit we’ve seen locally.

Two customs that everyone can do is clean your house to sweep out the ill and welcome the good fortune. This is similar to our Jewish custom at Passover of cleaning and getting rid of any bread and crumbs to make ready for the unleavened matzo. Decorations in red are also fun to hang in windows and on doors.

For anyone wondering, my zodiac sign is the Horse.

Tea for Tuesday

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This advice from VeryBritishProblems may sound a bit peevish at first, but for tea, the microwave is very uneven. You’re likely to find the first sip warm, and then drink it faster only to discover the middle scalding. Best to boil new water and brew another tea bag for evenness. One thing I learned from Douglas Adams’s advice on the perfect cup of tea is to boil the water, fill your mug, and pour it out. Then refill the mug with the boiled water and a tea bag. Let it steep. This will warm the cup and keep your tea warmer longer. I’ve tried this method and it really is perfect.

We also invested in an electric kettle. It is very fast and does a great job, and by invest, we paid about $25, so it easily pays for itself if you start brewing your tea at home.

Proper British Tea. (c)2023

Mental Health Monday – January 2023

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I spent today with my family, and when I got home realized that this post wasn’t ready. I was going to put it off until mid-week when things would be seemingly calmer, but I thought about that for a minute, and realized that our mental health can’t be put off.

We need to take the time needed and focus on our mental health when we need to. It will never fit into a schedule. Things come up with mental health that we need to cope with just like things come up everyday in our lives like an overflowing sink or a backed-up toilet. Some things just need to be taken care of right away.

One thing that I have been struggling with is my prayer life. My faith is strong, but I’m having difficulty praying, so I’m looking at new techniques. If it doesn’t improve, I may resort to a finite-timed checklist. And for me, not being prayerful affects my mental health. I am hoping to attend mass tomorrow before I begin the rest of my day.


Before I give you my quick list, please…. if you are in distress or having an emergency, contact a mental health professional or call 9-1-1.
The Suicide and Crisis Lifeline is 988 and they are there to help.


Here are five simple suggestions for coping with mental health and the anxieties that accompany it:

  • Focus on something neutral, something ordinary. The breeze blowing the leaves outside. The clouds drifting by.
  • Take some quiet time and listen to music. Instrumental music is often good for this because there are no words to distract you, but if you like loud, blaring music, play that and sing along.
  • Read a book.
  • Write in a journal. You can write what you’re feeling, what you’re grateful for, what your plans are when you’re feeling better.
  • Watch a movie you’ve seen before. That way you don’t have to give it your full attention, but you’ll feel as though you’re doing something if that’s what you need.

Here’s another helpful action you can take.