Tuesday, December 27, 2005

A Chinese New Year To Remember

I am one of those people who get kind of down after Christmas, without anything to look forward to until Valentine's Day. But then I discovered Chinese New Year.

This holiday usually falls on a date that suits the after-holiday blahs perfectly. This year, it will be January 29th and will begin the Year of the Dog. Just enough time to plan an event, yet not too soon after the traditional American New Year's festivities.

The Chinese have lots of wonderful New Year traditions. For many years, my husband and I have organized a mixed bag of friends to join us at our favorite Chinese Restaurant for a celebration. We order an appropriate number of dishes, served family style. Everyone pays their own way.

The preparations are the most fun for me. Of course, there's a floral arrangement for the long table. Decorations relate to the animal who is chosen for the new year. In the past we have also added paper dragons hanging from the ceiling.

While we wait to be served, we look over printed information about what animal our birth year represents. There's lots of information to download at
Each animal has characteristics that are supposedly reflected in the person with whom the animal shares a year. Dogs, of course, are loyal.

I buy red envelopes and visit the bank for crisp, new bills. The Chinese gift young, single adults and children with money in red envelopes to insure them of good fortune in the new year. We bend the tradition a little by gifting the servers who take care of us, even though they are adults and usually married.

I researched the internet to find fortunes and we made up a few of our own. My favorite, "A man wrapped up in himself is a small package." Then we hand folded tiny origami (Japanese) envelopes and folded the small fortunes inside. Each of our guests chooses a fortune from a red enamel bowl and reads it to the gathering. It is sometimes strange how appropriate the fortunes are to those who receive them.

The restaurant staff seems to enjoy the event as much as the guests.

It takes a little time and coordination, but gives everyone something new to look forward to when the trees and candles have disappeared. Give it a try to brighten your January.
Check the main website for fortunes, graphics and floral ideas.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Letting go...

I have a confession and I want to share it with those of you who may understand. I have trouble letting go of my flower arrangements.

Yesterday I made six arrangements for my garden club's Christmas luncheon and I was very fond of them. It was hard to give them away. Did they go to someone who would appreciate them? Were they good enough to give to someone else? Will the flowers hold up? What about the maypop? I never used maypop before. Will it be wilted tonight?

At home I have the same problem. The Thanksgiving cornucopia that I was so pleased with is looking pretty shabby, but it hasn't been thrown out yet. It should be, but it hasn't. I removed the wilted chrysanthemums. The leaves have been rearranged to hide the bare spots. Soon we will have to blow the dust off if I don't remove it to make way for something fresh.

Photographs make it a little easier to part with them. The special arrangements will stay with me digitally speaking.

I used to think it was because I had cut the material from the plants in my garden, and having raised and pampered the plants, I was a little attached. But even bought flowers have the same effect. Is there a 12-step program for this?

Sunday, December 04, 2005

December already

Now I know Christmas must be coming because I am wearing funny socks and gaudy holiday earrings. The Christmas tree is up and decorated. The panic to get the cards written is starting to be felt.

At our house, the top priority is finishing the ornaments. For 37 years we have made ornaments for family and ancient friends. Each year, we puzzle over what to make, and work on prototypes, and figure out details until - like now - we have to hurry to finish to get them in the mail.

When the families were small, there were fewer ornaments to be made. As the nieces and nephews began to have lives of their own, they were added to the list. Good friends made later in life were added as well. It is still a short list that hovers around 30-35.

As we decorated the tree last night we revisited ornaments past. "Remember when we glued this one and then put them in the stain and they all fell apart?" And we had the annual discussion of which are our favorites. We added comments on which ones we would never do again because they were too hard. And we considered possible designs for the future. We're good at thinking about this project. Getting started early enough is another thing.

Which reminds me that I still need to have five centerpieces in time for the garden club luncheon on Wednesday. Still without inspiration about something truly memorable, but that usually comes after I start. The good news is that the holly has put out lots of beautiful berries this year and is large enough to take a lot of trimming.

I hope that some of the visitors to Arranged for you... will share photos of their holiday arrangements. I really would love to see them. Send digital photos to karin@arrangingsupplies.com