This past Monday, my extended family and I celebrated Chinese New Year – the year of the Monkey. This is arguably the most important holiday for many Asian cultures. Our family looks forward to this celebration every year, and my children often complain that they should have the day off of school. Now that my 7th grader has joined the debate team at school, he thinks he may actually convince me!
The most important part of the Chinese New Year for many families is the opportunity to gather together. It is a time to celebrate the old year and wish for good fortune in the new one. Older generations give red envelopes with lucky money inside to the younger, single relatives. Like many holidays, the importance and true meaning of the special day gets lost in the excitement of getting money, getting gifts, getting candy. Wow, our children really do get a lot. But, they also give a lot, too.
Community service is an important part of our curriculum. In age appropriate ways, we show our students how important it is to give back to the community. Our youngest children made cards for sick patients at Walter Reed. The whole school donated gifts for children being treated at NIH. 1st Graders are helping Heifer International end world hunger, and the 2nd Graders delighted the residents of the Brookdale Senior Living Community with a visit and songs....and this was only in the past week! One afternoon, I overheard a 4 year-old say to her mother, “Mama, we are making cards for little children in the hospital. They are sick and we are making them feel better!” Not only are we raising bright and inquisitive children, but thoughtful, caring, considerate and kind citizens of the world.