My niece joined the family on July 12th, 2010. This special young lady's mother is my younger sister, which in classic Chinese culture makes me her Jiu Jiu (舅舅) -- thus the title of this blog. Here I intend to semi-regularly post reflections, thoughts, stories, and assorted whathaveyous pertaining to our trip to China, adoption in general, and (mostly) watching my niece grow up. Since the web is a very public place, I will attempt to maintain my family's privacy while telling the story... but I invite you to follow the blog and come along for the adventure!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Gong Xi Fa Cai!

Okay, so it's kinda-sorta passed right on by... but we were at the big FCC Chinese New Year celebration this past weekend, so I figure I'll take this one last dragon-based chance to wish one & all a happy new year.

It's kind of funny, though -- in most Western languages, one can simply say, "happy new year" and that's that. In Chinese, well... Most of our friends (and the friendly waitress at the Chinese restaurant a couple of weeks back) use "Xin Nian Kwai Le" and that pretty much translates as "happy new year" but it's not universal. Another common wish I've heard/read lately is "Gung Hai Fat Choy," which is pretty much the same thing, except that it's a different thing -- my fledgling knowledge of Chinese indicates it's more a Cantonese greeting, whereas XNKL is Mandarin.

Me? I kinda like "Gong Xi Fa Cai" -- congratulations and wishes for prosperity. Looking back at some of the craziness of the past year, I think some congratulations are in order for those of us who are still standing... perhaps a bit crookedly, beat up, wobbly-kneed and bruised, but still standing.  (The wishes for prosperity are probably self-explanatory.)  So...

 Gong Xi Fa Cai! 

As I mentioned above, the five of us went to the FCC Year of the Dragon celebration this past weekend. After Gerda Sue (AJ's lamented GPS, lost in the accident last November) took us via the "scenic" route last year, I spent some quality time with Google Maps and sure enough, the new GPS (sorry, I forgot "her" name!) kept wanting to take us in a more "direct" route that involved lots of little side streets and at least 20-30 minutes of additional travel time. Of course, once we reached our destination, AJ pointed out that she knew we were in the right place because every family walking toward the building from the parking lot seemed to include at least 1 little Chinese girl. (Also a lot more little Chinese boys than we remember from past years -- a sign of the changes in the PRC's international adoption program.)

Once inside, we began to enjoy ourselves, but soon had a small dark cloud overhead; the Pipsqueak was definitely not herself. From the moment we got out of the van, she was more clingy than usual, and her color wasn't quite right, and... well, she just wasn't well (by the end of the day, the symptoms included a low-grade fever). Still, she was interested, so we stayed.

After lunch, there was Chinese opera (the unexpectedly loud & cacophonous opening strains sent lots of little ones scrambling away from the stage, but most of the audience returned fairly soon), a dance sequence showing a chapter from the story of the Monkey King enhanced by some darned impressive ring tossing & twirling, and -- of course! -- a lion dance, complete with long train of kidlings trailing after the beast in an attempt to feed him hong bao (and perhaps get a peek inside to see how his eyes & mouth worked). Finally came the "fireworks" with everyone jumping up & down on bubble wrap (surprisingly effective, for those of you who haven't tried it!) but by that point we'd had to put our jackets on and head for the van with not-healthy Pipsqueak in hand.  I'll try to put up a short video in a day or two, but in the meantime here are a few photos:

Despite the Pipsqueak not really being herself, I think we all enjoyed the day... and I think that maybe, just maybe, my niece has gotten her fill of dragons & lions for a little while.

Vamos a ver...


  1. I love the bubblewrap/firecracker idea!

    1. Wish I could take credit for this, but I actually saw it for the first time at an FCC event early during AJ's paperchase. The kids have a great time jumping & stomping on the bubble wrap -- and it actually does sound like firecrackers!

  2. Chinese Language is very specific. you may already know the differences between "Jiu Jiu" & "Shu Shu".

    "Xian Nian Kuai Le" is only used on Jan 1st, the Western New year's Day (Yuan Dan 元旦),

    on the Lunar New year's Day(Chun Jie 春节), 99% people in Mainland China say "Bai Nian! 拜年" or "Xin Chun Kuai Le 新春快乐”(happy New Spring) or "Chun Jie Hao 春节好" (Happy spring festival " you hardly hear anyone say "happy New year"

    Cantonese love to say "gong xi fa cai" on the new year's day, but this phrase is often used by others when attending Grand Openings, or used to congratulate friends or relatives on their good fortune--if you get a raise or receive some bonus from your company, I would say "go xi fa cai" to you. lol

    1. I spent years telling everyone I was the "Shu Shu" and didn't have the slightest inkling of how wrong I was until the day before we returned from China, when I had a discussion with Jordon (he of the eponymous shop on Shamian island) about family roles. Oh, well...

      I also spent months trying to learn Mandarin only to learn (at the last minute) that the Pipsqueak's province is historically Cantonese-speaking... which is one of the reasons I've adopted the GXFC greeting. However, even with lots of Internet searches I hadn't known most of what you said in your comment -- so thank you for the education! :-)