"Happy Year of the Tiger" by HeWhoWalksWithTigers - deviantART.com

We celebrated Chinese New Year’s yesterday at my aunt’s house.  In past years, our celebrations have been boisterous and crowded with exchange students and friends.  But this year, it was just family.

This gave us a chance to really reconnect, look over old pictures, and, of course, eat a lot of good food.  (Oh, man!  I should have taken pictures of the food.  Next year….)

But what made this year’s celebration particularly meaningful to me was that this was my daughter’s first Chinese New Year’s celebration.  Last year at this time, she was recently discharged from a six-week stay in the NICU at a hefty 4 lbs.-14 ozs., give or take a hair.  And so we wisely kept her at home.

Those were bitter-tender times, harrowing and scary, and amazing and awe-inspiring.  I look at those pictures of me holding her, my thumb running the length of her thigh, and just think, “How did we ever get through those tough times?”

I guess they didn’t seem so tough at the time.  I think I was so much in love, it didn’t really matter.  It was just one day after the next.  She slept for so long, it seems.  Then suddenly, she was smiling and laughing, waving her arms and babbling.

Today I got to watch her walk laps around the pool grasping the hands of relatives who took turns for the privilege, so damn proud of her little Frankenstein lurch.  She would periodically be so overcome with happiness that she would squeeze her eyes shut and just laugh in excitement.  She’s walking!  She’s tasting freedom!  And I am so excited for her.

My little girl is the first baby on this side of the family in over 20 years (State-side), and everyone’s in love.  She’s like a little celebrity, with camera flashes popping off like paparazzi.  She takes it all in stride, flashing her two bottom teeth and waving at the onlookers.

I am so proud of her.  For someone who needs a nap after three hours of wakefulness, she held court for about seven hours before we finally took her home.  She ate sticky rice and butterflied shrimp and pot stickers and spicy pork.  And she reminded the family what it’s like to have little ones about.

I feel overcome with gratitude for my daughter, my husband, my family, my life.  This has been the best year of my life.  We’ve got a lot of big changes coming our way, and I’m hopeful that the Year of the Tiger will be another year to be grateful for.

So to all my dear friends, may this new year bring you love, laughter, and happiness.  Happy New Year!

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