Friday, 13 January 2012

Traditions, old and new


Mel wrote a lovely post last week about taking a tradition she learned about when travelling in Italy, and bringing it into her family.  It made me think about what I might have done if I had had children, what parts of my life in Thailand would have become part of their life in New Zealand.  I know they’d have grown up eating Thai food, taking their shoes off at the door, and being told to “jai yen yen.”  (Literally, it means cool heart, in practice, it means “calm down,” and my husband and I use it on each other frequently.  It doesn't always work!)   They might have learned all about Songkran, the Thai New Year water festival.  It is celebrated in Thailand in April, the hottest part of the year there, and being soaked with water isn’t necessarily a bad thing then.  April in New Zealand on the other hand is autumn, sometimes lovely Indian summer days, other times freezing temperatures and time to dig out the winter clothes.  It would be hit and miss.

I also loved the Loy Krathong festival in Thailand.  A November festival, again a bit weather dependent but less so, this one only requires some relatively calm water.  Krathongs are little banana-leaf boats with a  candle, that you float off into some water.   It symbolises letting go of all your grudges, anger and negativity.  Time to start afresh.  I like that idea.  I could do with starting afresh occasionally; holding on to negativity and grudges is not a healthy practice, but one I can find myself doing.  I do find though that usually I am able to force myself to let them go (mostly) from time to time.  I like to think I would have introduced the idea to my children. 

Oddly, these thoughts don’t give me much sadness.  Instead, it’s kind of nice to know my children’s lives would have been interesting and full, and perhaps a wee bit different, because of me.

7 comments:

  1. I love your thoughts here. Especially the idea of carrying things of importance from your own culture. me? Fish and chips on a friday (is that a kiwi thing too?) and roast dinner on a sunday

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    1. Fish and chips on Friday = definitely a kiwi thing. (Guess what we had for dinner last night?) Roast dinners on Sunday also used to be kiwi, but probably slipping a bit now. (Kiwi traditions take from UK traditions a lot).

      I'm not actually culturally Thai - I forget that readers here don't know me as well as those at my Separate Life blog (link is in the About Me section). I lived in Thailand as a teenager (just posted about it), and then again in my late 20s/early 30s with my husband, and it is very much part of me.

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  2. I love this.. I am sure they would have been interesting and full. And I am glad knowing this doesn't make you sad.

    I also smile because we used to have a tradition at a camp in Oregon where we'd put lit candles in the river on tiny boats we made from things we found in the forest. We'd sing and put them in the water and watch them float away. It was always a very powerful and moving way to let go and say goodbye. Writing it like this, it sounds so cheesy and hippy-dippy Oregon, but I still fondly remember that tradition.

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  3. Not exactly a tradition, but I wanted very much to raise truly bilingual kids. I wanted them to grow up in this country but still be able to communicate with my family back home. I am a spelling fanatic in my own language, and I would have made sure they got their spelling and grammar rules right.

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  4. I've only spent the month of November in Thailand and definitely loved Loy Krathong. It feels a bit odd to say 'share with my child' as I chose the ritual of floating a krathong to say goodbye to my non-existing child...

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    1. Valery, I did think about doing that myself, as I learned I'd never have children only a few weeks before Loy Krathong. I'd definitely have done it if I'd been in Thailand at the time - I can't think of a more lovely way to say good-bye.

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