The we would be the Johnsons next door and me, which makes six – a very nice sized party.
And we had what we have decided is the right mix: one adult per child.
We had egg rolls which the children investigated. One liked the wrapping, one liked the filling and Alice is an adventurous eater, so there is rarely anything left on her plate. The hit of the meal was the ribs – not the meat but the bones, all dripping with sauce. Instead of red envelopes full of money we had gold chocolate coins. Not the right symbol, but the hope and good wishes of continued wealth was there.
We ate on Chinese dishes – the blue ones with the rice pattern, so called because rice is set in the dishes and then burned off during firing, leaving small patterned indents.
That rice pattern set of dishes is so old that Richard can remember its genesis.
I had run a paper route for a month to get enough money to buy dishes to serve Chinese food on. I found a pattern which others might have thought was garish. I thought it was beautiful: red chrysanthemums outlined in gold paint on a black background with lots of other colours in a bougquet accenting the beauty of the main flower. I spent a lot of time picking that pattern out. In a couple of weeks I read in the Calgary Herald that some dishes had been imported from China which were only for display use. They contained lead poisoning. Of course there was a picture of my beloved set of dishes there. Back to Chinatown I went to return them in the best interests of my family’s health, coming home with this set: utilitarian, and now well used, though lacking that abundant splash of colour I loved.
Gōnghè xīnnián or as we say in English, Happy Chinese New Year.