Long-time readers might remember when Oliver and I went to the Chinese New Year celebration in downtown Los Angeles last year. The boy literally dragged me out of bed to do it again this year, and I am just so glad that we did. First of all, we realized that the really giant celebration at the main temple, the one that brings thousands of people and news crews and VIPs and limos, is NOT the one that we like. I don't know if I've ever mentioned that Oliver, despite being severely dyslexic, has an almost uncanny sense of direction. The kid can remember how to get ANYWHERE, and I mean anywhere. He can't even read signs that well, but he can find his way to anyplace that he's visited before, in any city at any time of day or night. I, on the other hand, am utterly directionally challenged and get lost literally everywhere, at any time of day or night. I used the GPS to go downtown at 11:00 last night, but when we found ourselves at the huge temple, we realized that it was the wrong one (different from last year), and Oliver promptly led us to the right one, a sort of outlier on an otherwise empty road. We got there just in time to mingle with mostly Chinese people, light incense and offer our prayers to the various Buddhas, eat the delicious chicken and rice soup and then be deafened by the lighting of what seems to be millions of firecrackers.
Hello only other non-Asian at the temple!
Here are fruit offerings along with incense sticks.
Oliver and I both loved the gentle and reverent atmosphere at the temple. It was a peculiar combination of exuberant joy and great peace. We each prayed silently along with hundreds of other people.
The lighting of the firecrackers is outrageous! It's so loud and so fast and seems so utterly non-politically correct to have that much fire and smoke and noise so close to so many people -- but it's awesome. I took videos but won't download them here -- below is a shot of all the spent crackers:
I told Oliver as we walked back to our car, shortly after midnight, that it was strange and wonderful how peaceful the celebration is, despite the deafening roar of those firecrackers being lit and the drums pounding. I am grateful to have shared this experience with Oliver for two years in a row.