We sold our home in Southern California. The escrow closed on December 7th. We drove one car with a small trailer carrying our important belongings and some essential items and left Orange County, California at 6:30 am on that day to beat the Downtown Lost Angeles traffic. People seem to get on the road earlier and earlier to get to work. At 6:30 am, traffic was bumper to bumper for at least 30 miles. I remember getting on the road around 6:00 am to be at work by 8:00 am. It seems people these days must start at 5:00 am or earlier if they work in the Los Angeles area. We took two days to reach my daughter Mercy’s home in Portland, Oregon.
We left California at 63°F and arrived in Portland, Oregon at 42°F. I bundled up the first few days. Eventually, my body got used to the cold. The weather got freezing the last few days. It was 21°F on Thursday, December 22nd and we woke up with snow on the ground on Friday. The grandkids had fun playing sleds. Lynton joined the kids sliding down the hills. The snow is melting this Saturday morning. We may not have a white Christmas tomorrow.
My daughter’s backyard
After we arrived in Portland, we started going to the home showings. We visited four homes and fell in love with one. By December 13th, we made an offer on one house. The escrow will be closed on January 10th. The home was built in the early 1990s and it was a custom home. The kitchen cabinets and bathroom vanities are original. We got a break from the sales price to do the upgrades. It will be lovely when the improvements are done.
Our new home is about 18 to 20 minutes from Mercy’s home. The gym, nature parks, shopping, and our basic needs are within a 10 to 15 minutes drive.
We’ll move into our new home upon closing escrow. Lynton’s niece is getting married in February. So we’ll wait until February to return to California, attend Lynton’s niece’s wedding, then rent a moving truck to bring the rest of our belongings.
“O Holy Night” (also known as “Cantique de Noël”) is a well-known Christmas carol.
Back in 1843, in a small French town, Roquemaure, a man named Placide Cappeau was known more for his talent at writing poetry. A priest asked him to write a poem for Christmas Mass. He took his request seriously. Placide Cappeau began thinking about the birth of Jesus. With that inspiration, he wrote “Cantique de Noel.”
Placide was so pleased with how the poem came out that he decided it needed to be a song. Since he was a poet but not a musician, he turned to a friend, Adolphe Charles Adams, to see if he would set his poem to music. Adolphe was a famous classical musician who had composed many works all around the world, but he agreed to come up with music for his friend’s poem.
In 1843 or 1847, according to two different sources, he composed music to go with the beautiful words, and the song was performed a few weeks later at a Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve.
The song was premiered in Roquemaure in 1847 by the opera singer, Emily Laurey.
In 1855, an American writer, John Sullivan Dwight, saw something in the song that moved him beyond the story of the birth of Christ. An abolitionist, Dwight strongly identified with the lines of the third verse: “Truly he taught us to love one another; his law is love and his gospel is peace. Chains shall he break, for the slave is our brother; and in his name, all oppression shall cease.” This verse mirrored Dwight’s view of slavery in the South. He published his English translation of “O Holy Night” in his magazine, and the song quickly found favor in America, especially in the North, during the Civil War.
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Our church performed the Christmas Concert one year. “O Holy Night” was one of the songs at the concert. I was privileged to sing this piece. As part of the concert, I sang the first verse of the song. A friend sent me the mp3 of the music and I made it into a video.
I want to thank Robbie Cheadle, who inspired me to make this video. When I posted the information about my Messiah performance last year, she mentioned she would like to hear me sing.
I also want to thank Diane Wallace Peach, who created the trailer for my poetry book, Song of Heartstrings: Poems of Gratitude and Beatitude. She inspired me to use PowerPoint to create to presentation and insert the music to create this video.
I’m with Sally at Smorgasbord Blog Magazine today. Sally features my post about the legend and traditions of Chinese New Year. I learned a lot by preparing this post. It brought back many childhood memories. Please head over to visit Sally and her rich features on her blog.
Chinese New Year begins on Friday, February 12, 2021.It is the year of Ox. The holiday was traditionally a time to honor household and heavenly deities and ancestors. It was also a time to bring the family together for feasting.
When I was a kid, my favorite family time was Chinese New Year. We had one week off from school and my dad had five days off from work. On New Year’s Eve, Flower Markets took place in major parks. They were open from early evening to 5:00 a.m. on New Year’s Day.
One year, I went to the Flower Market with my older sister and her boyfriend. We lived in western side on the Hong Kong island, and took the tram to Victoria Park in Causeway Bay. By the time we finished walking through the entire market, there was no tram in operation until morning. We followed the tram track and took one hour and thirty minutes to walk home.
I was half asleep even though my feet were moving with one hand holding my sister’s and other hand holding something she bought me. I dropped the bag on the ground many times, bent down, picked it up and continued walking on autopilot.
By the time we got home, my mom had made special food as part of the Chinese New Year ritual. I liked sweet rice balls. We ate and went to sleep for a few hours. On New Year’s Day, everyone put on new clothing. Kids would say “Gung Hei Fat Choi” (Wishing you prosperous) to the parents and adults. My parents and the adults in the neighborhood gave us kids Lucky Money in red envelopes. It was the tradition for the married people to give Lucky Money to the kids and unmarried adults. We visited our relatives on the second, fourth, and fifth day. Kids loved that because we could keep all our Lucky Money.
We anticipated with excitement on the 3rd day. There were three activities became our family tradition. In the morning we went to Tiger Balm Garden, which was a private mansion and garden that eventually became a public garden. After Tiger Balm Garden, we went to the Botanic Arboretum, and visited the Governor’s Garden, which was open to the public during Chinese New Year.
Being able to spend five holidays with my parents was the best thing for me as a kid.
Why Chinese New Year is on a different date each year?
Chinese New Year is based on the ancient Chinese lunar calendar. It functioned as a religious, dynastic, and social guide. Oracle bones inscribed with astronomical records show the calendar existed as early as 14th century B.C. when the Shang Dynasty was in power.
A lunar calendar is based on the monthly cycles of the Moon’s phases, with the new moon being the first of the month and full moon the middle of the month.
Each lunation is approximately 29 1⁄2 days. The lunar calendar alternates between 29 and 30 days a month and an average of 354 days a year.
The Gregorian calendar has an average of 365.25 days a year, and therefore 365 days a year with 366 days in a leap year every four years.
Approximately every three years (7 times in 19 years), a leap month is added to the Chinese calendar. To determine when, we find the number of new moons between the 11th month in one year and the 11th month in the following year. A leap month is inserted if there are 13 New Moon from the start of the 11th month in the first year to the start of the 11th month in the next year.
Chinese New Year usually begins when the new moon occurs between January 21 and February 20, and it lasts about 15 days until the full moon arrives with the Festival of Lanterns.
The Legend of Chinese New Year celebration
According to Chinese mythology, a Nian is a beast lived under the sea or in the mountains. It was unclear whether the Nian was an authentic folk mythology or a local oral tradition. Some sources cited it resembled a lion’s head with a dog’s body. Towards the end of winter, on Chinese New Year’s Eve, the Nian came out to feed on crops and sometime children. All the villagers hid from the beast. One year, an old man came to the village. On the New Year’s Eve, after the villagers escaped, he put red papers up and set off firecrackers to drive off the creature. The next day, the villagers came back to their town and saw that nothing was destroyed. They later found out the old man discovered the Nian was afraid of red and loud noises. It became the tradition the villagers celebrated the New Year wearing red clothes, hanging red lanterns, and red scrolls on windows and doors. People also used firecrackers to frighten away the Nian.
Chinese New Year Traditions and Symbols
The Chinese New Year is a time of change and new beginnings, wearing something new is a symbol of removing the old and welcoming the new. Red is the color for celebrating any happy occasion, as it represents prosperity and good luck.
Lucky Money Red Envelopes The married people give the Lucky Money red envelopes to children or unmarried adults to bless them with good luck/fortune and happiness/abundance.
Plum and Peach Blossoms
People decorate their homes with fruit blossoms to symbolize a plentiful crop in the new year. Peach blossoms symbolize long life, romance, and prosperity.
The homophone of the Chinese word ‘fish’ is the same as the word for ‘surplus’ inferring more than enough. By hanging up fish decorations or eat fish, people hope the New Year will bring wealth and prosperity.
Tangerines and Oranges
Both fruits symbolize abundant happiness. The homophone of ‘tangerine’ is the same for the word ‘luck’ and the homophone of ‘orange’ sounds the same as the word for ‘wealth’. When visiting family and friends, it is a custom to take a gift bag of oranges or tangerines.
Rice-cake — Progression or Promotion
Glutinous rice cake is a lucky food eaten on Chinese New Year’s Eve. This is play on words to infer “getting higher year after year.” It can imply children’s height, rise in business success, better grades in study, or promotions at work.
Sweet Rice Balls — Family Togetherness
The homophone of ‘ball’ and round shape are associated with reunion and being together. They are favorite food during the New Year celebrations.
I hope you enjoyed finding out something interesting!
I enjoy reading quotes. I used to memorize them for encouragement and motivation. Lao Tzu is known for his wisdom and I believe our doing begins with our thinking.
I read 100 best New Year’s quotes for 2021 and included 10 here.
1. “Write it on your heart that every day is the best day in the year.” —Ralph Waldo Emerson
2. “The magic in new beginnings is truly the most powerful of them all.” ―Josiyah Martin
3. “The first step towards getting somewhere is to decide you’re not going to stay where you are.” —J.P. Morgan
4. “New year—a new chapter, new verse, or just the same old story? Ultimately, we write it. The choice is ours.” —Alex Morritt
5. “I like the dreams of the future better than the history of the past.” —Thomas Jefferson
6. “Never underestimate the power you have to take your life in a new direction.” ―Germany Kent
7. “As we grow older and wiser, we begin to realize what we need and what we need to leave behind. Sometimes there are things in our lives that aren’t meant to stay. Sometimes the changes we don’t want are the changes we need to grow. And sometimes walking away is a step forward.” —Unknown
8. “Begin doing what you want to do now. We are not living in eternity. We have only this moment, sparkling like a star in our hand and melting like a snowflake.” —Francis Bacon Sr.
9. “This year, be structured enough for success and achievement and flexible enough for creativity and fun.” —Taylor Duvall
10. “Don’t be afraid to go out on a limb. That’s where the fruit is.” —Frank Scully
Our New Year’s tradition used to be watching the fireworks beginning at 15 minutes before 9:00 p.m. PST (12:00 a.m. EST) for the countdown in Times Square, New York, then watching the fireworks around the world. Many countries didn’t have fireworks this year. We watched the video clips of a few countries where they had fireworks. Here is a short BBC clip.
Wishing you a Happy first day of the best possible new 365 days of Year 2021!