As many rush around for last-minute Christmas shopping, I can relax knowing that my holiday shopping is long finished. We finished Channukah (or Hannuka or Hanukah: it’s a transliteration) on Saturday evening after eight days of gift giving.
This year, like in the past, I’ve given my family gifts with a Chinese theme. It’s a good way to incorporate my older son Jake’s culture into our family’s holiday. We kicked off Channukah two Saturdays ago. Since my husband started wearing cufflinks this year, buying gifts for him has become a little easier. Look at these Year of the Dragon cufflinks I found for him:
The next day I took 14 year-old Jake and 5 year-old Rachel out for dim sum with some friends. Much to my surprise, my friends gave the kids lai see, or red envelopes, stuffed with Hong Kong dollars. It’s fitting because the original Channukah gifts were gelt, or coins. At the Chinese New Year, people give kids money in these red envelopes. So the two cultures are similar in that, although Channukah gifts have now evolved to the calibre of Christmas ones. And gelt is now candy money.
On the third night of Channukah, I gave Rachel and 3 year-old Martin books about Chinese culture. The kids just loved James Kye’s Jojo Eats Dim Sum (Wonderscopic, 2011). Jojo and her family go out for dim sum every Saturday, where they dine on har gow, siu mai, daan taat, and the ubiquitous chicken feet. The illustrations are fun and the kids feel connected to Jojo because they, too, love to go out for dim sum. We only go once a month, though.
I bought Martin this lovely picture book by Roseanne Thong and Grace Lin. Red is a Dragon (Chronicle Book, 2008) teaches kids about colors and Chinese culture. It’s similar to their Round is a Mooncake book (Chronicle, 2000) about shapes. Martin loves his new book so much that he kept it under his covers most of last week. It’s now back in one of the chaotic book piles in my room.
Jake requested Angelfall (Amazon Publishing, 2012) by Susan Ee. Although it’s not about China or even Asia, I’m pretty sure Susan Ee is Chinese-American. Forgive me if I’m wrong. Jake can’t wait to start Angelfall when he jets off to Arizona this weekend to visit my mom over winter break.
My favorite gift, though, is this matching game I gave Rachel on the fourth night of Channukah. Each pair of cards depicts a scene from Hong Kong. The kids could recognize most of the pictures (Mid-Levels escalators, red taxis, dim sum, TST clock tower, durian, and skyline, to name several).
There are 40 Hong Kong scenes in all. Martin, astute for a 3 year-old or a 42 year-old for that matter, asked why there wasn’t a photo of dragon boats. I hadn’t thought of that before he mentioned it. In any case, the kids love this game as much as I do.
They received other gifts, mostly books, on the remaining four nights. These were the highlights. Happy Holidays!