As holidays go, New Year's has never been a big deal for us. In years past we've gathered with our extended family to celebrate birthdays and anniversaries, but as far as ringing in the New Year, we're kind of ambivalent. The big event around here was Family Movie Night -- popcorn, The Aristocats on DVD, and everyone in bed by 10:30. Yep, big excitement. :) Lately we've been thinking we'd like to build some New Year's family traditions for Sprout, though we're not sure just what form those will take yet (we're open to suggestions -- what do you do to celebrate as a family?).
For the family in Jama Kim Rattigan's Dumpling Soup, New Year's is all about gathering as a family for a delicious meal. Marisa lives in Hawaii, and her "chop suey" family is made up of lots of ethnicities - Korean, Chinese, Hawaiian, Japanese, Caucasian. Everyone brings something from his/her culture to the big New Year's feast. But the centerpiece of the meal is Grandma's dumpling soup, and this year Marisa gets to help make dumplings. What an honor!
There's just one problem: Marisa's dumplings are funny-looking, not like all the others. Marisa hopes that Grandma won't use them in the soup. She just knows her cousins will tease her about her cooking skills. And sure enough they do, but Marisa soon finds out that it's not how the dumplings look on the outside, but what's inside that really counts - and on the inside, Marisa's dumplings are the best ever. Mmmmmm!
Rattigan's tale of an energetic Hawaiian family is just right for ringing in the New Year, no matter how you celebrate. Pass the dumplings!