**Everyday for the month of November I will write down one thing I am grateful for.**
DAY 16: Face masks... thank you for making my skin shine and feel sufficiently moisturized! Plus your eye sockets make me look so adorable.
DAY 17: Winter, because there are no mosquitos.
DAY 18: Tradition. Every culture has its own particular traditions. In China it's especially noticeable, as Chinese people place much emphasis on "going home" for the holidays. Often that entails travelling hundreds or even thousands of miles over a couple days before the actual holiday - along with the rest of the country. Train and plane tickets are impossible to snag and sell out within seconds. It's quite a spectacle to watch on tv and every year there are incredible stories reported. The capital city of Beijing becomes a ghost town during the new year, as all the workers return home to celebrate with their family. Each holiday has it's unique traditions. For the dragon boat festival, 粽子 (sweet sticky rice wrapped in leaves) are eaten and dragon boats are rowed. The Mid-autumn festival sees showcases overflowing with gift-wrapped tins of mooncakes in every flavor ranging from to traditional lotus seed/red bean to purple sweet potato or rose to the more eclectic red wine duck to the ghetto hot dog.
The spring festival is the big event. It's China's new years, and traditionally celebrated for a whole month! Cooking and eating together is the main event. We indulge as my genius grandma's skillful hands churn out baskets of freshly steamed pork buns (flavors include: tofu+pork belly, carrots+celery, sauerkraut+pork --> my favorite), dumplings, stewed chicken, scallion pancakes, noodles, 花卷, and other enormous quantities of gluttony.
The night of the actual new year we all settle in the living room around the tv after dinner and, surrounded with snacks, watch the annual cntv program. At 12am it's time to pass out 红包 (red packets of money.) The kids receive them from every adult (I love all my unknown stranger aunts and uncles) but in all honesty the best part is just being with family that you don't often get the chance to see, sitting down to home prepared, lovingly cooked meals, and enveloped in the warmth only family can provide. I then will always proceed to capture the fireworks streaking the night sky before my feet get cold.
Little kids run around setting off firecrackers that scare the pee out of me. (I am not condoning this behavior I jump out of my skin every time one sparks in my face.)
Last year my cousins and I strolled down by the 嘉陵江 river, sharpied wishes on 孔明灯 (lanterns) and set them free at night. The entire sky was lit with specks of glowing red dreams.
But most important is spending time with family. In China family is held on the highest pedestal; it's common to see grandparents living with their kids and especially during the holidays, the entire extended family gets together. From uncles to aunts to my dad's brother's wife's sister's son to that cousin I've never heard of, it's a party that I can always look forward to.
DAY 20: Belief. So Essena O'Neill is probably my favorite girl. I used to envy her and her clothes and her house, the "perfect" life she portrays, and wonder why she was was so popular and successful. The past few days I've been scrolling through her tumblr and she truly is a beautiful soul inside and out. She is so positive, so loving, so inspiring. She never apologizes for being herself and empowers others to love themselves as well. Your life is YOUR creation. YOU decide if you want to have a purposeful, worthy, happy day. It is so refreshing (and rare) to see a girl so completely confident in her skin that I reacted by mentally picking out her "flaws".That's not her problem at all. I just didn't know how else to accept her.
DAY 21: Change. The power to change what we don't like. The ability to change our perspective about what's "good enough."