Chinese New Year

It’s that time of the year, Asian new year. Asian new year is one of the biggest holidays in countries like Korea and China. We get to gather around with families that we weren’t able to meet for a while and celebrate each other by eating different kinds of food and talking about how their life has been. This is time of the year, where I want to go back to my own country. I always think about how fun it would be to spend time with family and relatives and laugh about stupid stuff, while I’m in my room laying on my bed. I wish one day I could celebrate Asian new year with my family and relatives.

Your Vegan Thanksgiving is still a Celebration of Violence!

Photo via Pinterest.com

A vegan Thanksgiving is more sustainable and animal cruelty free. Supporting semen being sucked out with a straw from 46 million male turkeys’ anuses each year is cruel.  But having Thanksgiving at all is not necessarily cruelty free. The only ethical way to celebrate Thanksgiving is to spend it educating yourself on indigenous rights. 

“Happy Thanksgiving” I am so thankful for the Native Americans who continue to fight for their rights, their lands, refuse to abide by the societal expectations of pretending nothing terrible happened to their ancestors on this holiday. 

As we are having a beautiful Thanksgiving feast with our families and friends, remember that today is a national day of mourning for native Americans across the country. So while you’re thinking, “wow, this holiday is so incredible and based upon gratefulness and love between humans,” please don’t forget that thousands upon thousands of Native Americans have been brutally murdered in cold blood (partly) for their lands by white colonizers. 

And this question shocks me… but how many people across the country will celebrate Thanksgiving today having never even engaged with or met a native person, can’t name five tribes, can’t name the tribe whose lands they occupy or even can’t name a living native person? 

So… why not celebrate gratitude daily? It is one of the most important self-care practices a person can do. Daily practices rather than on just one day covered by blood which is just another white supremacist holiday. I’m not saying we should completely cut Thanksgiving from our yearly tradition but being less arrogant and realizing what this holiday truly represents. Being “woke” can be very emotionally taxing and difficult to talk about; but it’s worth doing the right thing rather than taking the easy way out and staying silent. 

Ignorance is not bliss. Even though it would be much easier not to post about these topics and just pretend today is a wonderful day of giving thanks…like everyone else does… so I don’t hurt any proud Americans’ feelings. If you’re not speaking the truth, you’re part of the problem. 

So bon appétit, but don’t forget!  As we celebrate thanks, for Native Americans Thanksgiving is a reminder of the genocide of millions of their people, the theft of their lands, and the assault on their culture and history of colonial violence.

Picture-Perfect Christmas

Seasons and memories have always been so weird to me.  I almost get seasonal depression, but not in the season one may suspect.

I get this feeling when it’s cold;  I’m content with everything and the most peaceful I have ever felt in my life.  My heart almost freezes, as if to stay in that feeling.

There seems to always be a memory associated with this feeling in my head.  It’s one of the strongest memories from my childhood, though that doesn’t say much. It’s a haze of little things.

I remember the dress. It was a new, red dress for Christmas.

Photo Credit: Pinterest.com

I remember the bear. Its paws lit up and it played a song. It was my favorite gift that year.

I remember the restaurant. It was right outside the mall, about 30 minutes away from home.

I remember the driveway. It was littered with pine needles.

I remember my parents.  They were happy, for once.

Everything was perfect.  It is the only time I look back and think I had a picture-perfect childhood.  It’s the only time I don’t remember yelling.  It’s the only time everyone got along.  It was the only time there was love everywhere.

Maybe that’s why I get so happy when it’s cold outside.

the things we don’t talk about- holiday edition

The holiday season is coming up, which means a lot of happiness and posts about “holiday spirit” which is great, but this is about the things we don’t talk about.

We don’t talk about the peoples whose families don’t have enough money for Christmas presents, halloween decorations, or a turkey dinner.

We don’t talk about the kids whose families are split into two or more homes, forced painfully back together for the holidays, nor do we talk about the kids whose families are split and don’t see each other at all.

We don’t talk about the families who yearn for someone who is no longer with them or who yearn for someone who never has been with them.

We don’t talk about a lot of things, especially around the holiday season, because we want to distract ourselves with presents and lights and candy.

Which, don’t get me wrong, is fun, but this is for the people who’s holidays aren’t the most wonderful time of the year. You’re not alone.

This is what the holiday season looks like to me, starting in October.

Halloween: Not very exciting and kind of awkward, as I’m old enough to not go trick-or-treating, but I still could go if I wanted to. It’s sad, because you realize it’s not as exciting as it was when you were a little kid.

Thanksgiving- Me, my mom, and step-dad sit at a fancy restaurant in Las Vegas, eating the turkey dinner on the menu. I wish I was home, with the rest of my family, like how it used to be. When grandma could still cook for us all and we could still all be ok sitting at one table. I’m definitely not as thankful as I should be on this day.

Photo credit: Nycinsiderguide.com 

Christmas- Awkward because my dad and step-dad are both at my house and it’s “rude” to pay more attention to one than the other. Normally, I do it anyway. Even more awkward because my two sisters are in the same house and they hate each other. Probably worse because my brother comes. Sucks because I’m the youngest and the people I want to pay attention to me don’t and the people I don’t want to pay attention to me pay too much.

New years Eve/ New Years day- Depressing, unless you’ve been invited to a party. Full of a lot of stupid phrases like “New year, new me” or “On the first page of a 365 page book.” Reality is, nothing ever changes.

Valentine’s Day- Cool if you’re dating someone; super lame if you’re not.

April Fool’s Day- Usually not funny. I probably end up forgetting what day it is and get pranked.

Mother’s Day- Celebrating mamas, trying really hard to make everything special, usually involves waking up earlier than my mom. Probably impossible, because I don’t think my mom ever sleeps. Normally ends up with a fight I feel terribly about.

Father’s Day- Another Mother’s Day, celebrating mom for being my mother and father. Forced to wish my step-dad a “Happy Fathers day! <3.” Normally, I don’t really mean it. I wish my sister’s dad a Happy Father’s day… I mean it.

Independence Day (AKA 4th of July)- Nothing super exciting. Missing the time I used to watch the fireworks on a big hill with my sister’s dad. Probably with my friends watching fireworks, but kinda scary because I don’t like the noise fireworks make.

REPEAT.

The point of this blog wasn’t for me to bag on the holidays. There is super fun stuff going on during the holidays and I appreciate and enjoy every single one (for the most part) for a different reason… I’m sure you hear a million things a year about why every holiday is great. This is about the things we DON’T talk about.

The point of this blog is to say: the holidays are coming up and with as much love and gratitude this brings, it can also be a rough time for some.

With that said, take care of yourself; be gentle with other people; be thankful for what you do have; focus less on what you don’t, but don’t ignore it; check up on your friends; and talk to someone if your Christmas was shitty! Some are better than others.

My first Thanksgiving

What is Thanksgiving? You’ll probably answer with: “It’s an American holiday and as the name suggests, it’s an occasion for people to be thankful for all the blessings in their lives.” But what’s the origin of Thanksgiving? When the Pilgrims arrived in America, they had trouble growing crops and in 1620 that lead to a famine that killed half of the Pilgrims. Fortunately for them, the Wampanoag tribe taught them how to farm on their soil and later in 1621 the Pilgrims had their first successful harvest. The Wampanoag tribe was then invited to a feast known as the “First Thanksgiving.”

As a non-US citizen, I was very curious to see how people celebrate Thanksgiving because it’s taken very seriously. Growing up, I used to love Thanksgiving specials on shows like “How I Met Your Mother” and “The Simpsons.” I knew the basics of Thanksgiving, but have never experienced it.

The food is fantastic, I never knew that turkey and cranberry sauce can go together so well. What I really appreciate about this holiday is the opportunity to reflect on your life and realize how many things we should be grateful for. I was lucky enough to spend Thanksgiving with my family and it was very sweet to have the whole day to keep saying how much we mean to each other. I’d say this experience has brought us closer in a way.

This was a very successful first Thanksgiving. Here’s to many more!

History of Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving at White House

 

Photo Credit: Rose Rundown

 

Super Scary, Stereotypical Costumes

Halloween is arguably one of the most fun holidays. You can dress up like a banana, a zombie cheerleader, or even a cat. However, a certain kind of costume that is not acceptable, comes around every year. Those costumes fall into a small category: when people adopt the aspects and features of another race or culture as a costume, a joke. Some examples of this are blackface and yellowface where people will literally paint a color onto their skin to make them look like a different race. Halloween is not the proper place to display your racial microaggressions. You may not even be aware of them, most people aren’t. Microaggressions are when you say a racial slur or dress up as another race to make fun of them. Actions like these showcase how unaware our society is to the amount of cultural appropriation we experience on a daily basis. Some may take this as it not being okay to dress up as their favorite movie character of a different race, but that is not the case. Little kids can dress up as Mulan, Pocahontas, and Tiana, because they are doing it out of admiration, not disrespect. It is hard to identify when a costume goes from okay to bad. If you think someone will be offended by your costume then odds are it isn’t appropriate.

STARS Poster Campagian 2012
Photo Credit: http://www.ohio.edu/orgs.stars/Poster_Campaign.html

In 2012, a group of students at Ohio State University, known as STARS (Students Teaching About Racism in Society), made a series of posters to showcase this problematic Halloween trend. It is a series of six posters each picturing an offensive costume representing a racial stereotype, an actual person representing that racial group, and the same line: “You wear the costume for one night, I wear the stigma for life.”

And this is so true. Coming from a place of privilege, I don’t understand the type of oppression people of color receive on a daily basis; neither do any of the people who dress up as stereotypes of a culture. If you dress up as a racial stereotype, then you most likely don’t know anything about that particular culture’s daily oppression. People who don blackface or dress up as a nerdy Asian never have to live in the skin of people of color. They don’t have to wake up knowing they’ll be judged for the amount of pigment in their skin. Most people dress up as stereotypical racial figures to make fun, not knowing anything about what it’s actually like to be who they’re dressed up as. On November 1st, you can wake up in your safety bubble of skin and go on with life, but the group of people you made fun of the night before will continue to wear the skin and/or identity that you appropriated as a costume.

School Fatigue & Thanksgiving Break

Thanksgiving is almost here, and with that comes a week-long break from school, which I am truly grateful for. Lately, to be able to make it through the school day I have had to go to bed at 9 pm.

I am basically a grandma.

But soon, everyone, including myself, will get to take a break from school, and hopefully, will get to go without alarm clocks and schoolwork for a week to recharge.

For those who celebrate Thanksgiving, we can stuff our faces full of turkey (or Tofurky for the vegans?), stuffing, and pie. And then we can all fall into a deep food coma.

Photo Credit: Giphy

There’s also Black Friday, which is just a shopping free-for-all, where people lose their minds over the sales and rip flat screens out from other shoppers’ hands.

And, right when Thanksgiving ends, it’s basically Christmas, so I’m pumped.

Now all California needs is COLD WEATHER (and rain, obviously).

Recognition: Happy Mother’s Day

In the United States, we have so many holidays honoring certain people and certain things. But we often fail to recognize those who aren’t in the picture, or who fall outside of conventional situations.

Happy Mother’s Day to those who lost their mothers, or never even knew them. Or maybe it’s not a happy Mother’s Day. We fail to acknowledge the people for whom Mother’s Day is a hard day – the people who never got to know their mother, or who had abusive mothers and don’t want to celebrate.

Happy Mother’s Day to the moms who aren’t alive for this year’s celebration, and to the mothers whose children died before their time. Let’s celebrate the women who tried and tried and couldn’t have children, and guardians who may not have kids of their own but fill the role of mothers, taking care of kids as if they were theirs.

Happy Mother’s Day to those without mothers or kids, and to those who have a hard time on this holiday. Happy Mother’s Day to the people who have no one to celebrate, or no one to celebrate with.

Photo Credit: visitquadcities.com

Hallmark Day

Happy Hallmark Day.

Or more commonly known as Valentines Day, which is right around the corner. This Sunday, the world will come together to celebrate (or not) this holiday, falling victim to colors like red and pink, and hearts as far as the eye can see.

Photo Credit: http://www.clipartbest.com

Hallmark holidays earned their name from their sole purpose of existing for commercial reasons, as opposed to commemorating an important event or tradition. Go into any given department store, and flashing signs point to isles of mushy cards and pink, glittery decorations. Although said to celebrate love, some argue that Valentines Day is a money-maker for stores, marketing thousands of cards and mass amounts of chocolate.

Don’t get me wrong – I think celebrating love is great, and important to do. However, an emotion that should be constantly expressed shouldn’t be stressed on one specific day just because a holiday is devoted to it.

This annual holiday puts a large stress on love and relationships, with demands like flowers, candy, and expensive jewelry. For most, relationships aren’t about material goods. One’s love is not measured by the amount of money spent on a partner, or the number of material items given.

Love can be celebrated every day, and doesn’t need to be shown through cheesy cards and cheap (or very expensive) chocolate. It can be sweet, but it shouldn’t be a representation of love, or a relationship itself.

Whether Valentines Day is celebrated lavishly or strongly ridiculed, there’s only one thing that remains important. This Hallmark day, full of stuffed bears and chocolate hearts, should never be the basis of romance.

Traditions

Throughout my years in middle school, my friend Lili and I would attend an annual Passover celebration that was put on by her family. I would look forward to this event as soon as the last one ended, counting down the days until I could celebrate once again.

From chocolate covered matzo to hidden gifts, this celebration never failed to excite, and crazy aunts and uncles who piled tables ceiling high with steaming food made the celebration incredibly enjoyable.

Passover is a holiday full of traditions, but this celebration just added to the fun. While hiding the matzo is a common practice, Lili’s family made it that much more interesting by making it chocolate covered, as well as awarding us with a prize.

Photo Credit: kosherkingdom.com

Her uncle, who we swore was insane, would ask us an abundance of ridiculous questions which we had to answer in order to receive our reward. It was impossible to keep a straight face, and we would end up rolling around in fits of giggles. We would then be so riled up that during the service, when we were to be quiet, we couldn’t keep our laughter in.

Mealtime was the best part of the entire night. There were tables on tables covered with so many dishes that the tablecloth was invisible, and mouth-watering smells circulated through the room, making everyone ravenous.

From matzo ball soup to beef brisket, every food imaginable was just waiting to be consumed. We all sat around one big table, enjoying our meal as laughter and chatter drifted around the room.

Once the service was over, we would all sit around, eating dessert and drinking – apple cider for the kids, and wine for the adults. It was almost as if time would stop – it seemed we sat there for hours.

I swear we covered every topic imaginable – we talked about everything from school to how the earth worked, and I remember those conversations being some of the most interesting ones I’ve ever had.

Those nights spent at Lili’s house were some of the longest I’ve ever had, and the most fun-filled as well. From delectable dishes to scintillating conversations, these celebrations were incredibly enjoyable, and have created some of the best memories I have.