Last weekend, Yuan Chi invited me to go with his family and his best family friends to the Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall in Taipei. So at 10am on Sunday, I hopped in the car, and we first made a stop at my favorite pizza place to pick up pizzas for lunch before making our way to Taipei. On the way they told me the Memorial Hall is really like a big public park and everyone goes there to picnic and fly kites. The weather was perfect so it was a great plan for the day! When we got there we met up with Yuan-Chi’s best friend from the army and his family. His name is Tommy and he is also very good at English (yay!). He is also the godparent to Yuan-Chi’s children (or the Chinese equivalent of that). Tommy and his wife have three children also, so we had six little kids running around, but it was really fun!! We ate lunch and watched all the local junior high school kids dance. Apparently the Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall is the place with the most space so all the junior high dance teams come to practice. It was really cool and they were awesome! So we got free entertainment with our picnic.
We played outside all day, attempted to fly a kite and just relaxed. And we got to see their version of the Changing of the Guards! It was a really nice day! You could almost forget you were in Taiwan. The open gardens and people picnicing totally could have been in Boston or DC (besides the perfect view of Taipei 101). It was pretty cool. I got to play with and hold Ting for a while during lunch and I am convinced she is the world’s cutest baby.
Then, on our way home, Yuan Chi told me Ting was turning 1 on Wednesday!! He invited me to her party! I was so excited! This was a huge cultural opportunity for me…and I love Ting! I excitedly accepted the invitation. I also learned that Song-Yu’s birthday is the same as Tings in the Chinese calendar (but not our calendar). So we celebrated his 5th birthday also. And another cool thing, we actually celebrated their 2nd and 6th birthdays because in Chinese culture, a baby is already 1 year old when they are born.
The one-year (or two-year technically) birthday in Taiwan is a very important one. Traditionally, families will put a spread of objects out in front of the baby, and whatever object the baby picks, says something about their future. This is an old tradition that has been around for a long time, so now it was Ting’s turn! They put out all the objects and plopped Ting on the ground. She started to crawl towards the objects, then sat down. Then turned around. Then crawled towards Mom. Then, lay down. So, we moved the objects closer. I think Yuan-Chi was doing it more for the tradition of the ceremony than the actual meaning, because he did not know what a lot of the objects represented. He knew the easy ones like the xylophone represented a musical future, the abacus meant a savvy business person, the stethoscope meant Ting would be a doctor. But, there was some chicken, celery, a ball etc. that we had no idea what they meant (oops). The party was at Ting’s nanny’s house (who is very traditional) so if it helps, I think she knew what each object represented, but she spoke no English so I never found out. Anyway, Ting picked the toy rice cooker, meaning she would have a passion for cooking when she grew up. Yay Ting!!!
We ate dinner and sang Happy Birthday to Song-Yu and Ting and then ate cake! (: Not American cake…but not bad. I’m so glad I got to experience such a huge life event for Ting and her family! I really am becoming Taiwanese!!!