So etiquette teaches that when you are invited to a dinner like this, you should take a gift. So we stopped at a store on our way and bought a gift box of oranges and a box of sesame seed sweets. I don't know if that was a good enough gift, but we are foreigners, so the let us off the hook if we get it wrong. At least we made the effort. :)
A couple of things were surprising to me. For one, I thought that maybe they wouldn't have heat in their apartment, but I know they live with his parents, and have a little toddler, so I figured they would have heat. But no, it was very cold. I am spoiled, and live in an apartment that has very good heat. But many of the people in my city have no heat at all. I have to admit that I got really cold. But we kept our coats on the whole time, so we survived.
Another thing that I kind of knew about, but which still is a shock for me, is that the women who cooked the meal didn't eat with us. They waited until we all left the table before they ate their meal. That really bothers me. For one, they did all the work. Secondly, I know that by the time they eat, the food will be cold. I kept telling myself that it isn't my culture, and I shouldn't say anything. I kept wanting to ask them to join us. But I just kept my mouth shut. It wasn't a problem of the amount of food, they had TONS! We counted 18 different dishes! And we barely made a dent on all of the food they cooked! This is just the way they do things here. I took a few pictures, but my eyesight is so bad that I can't tell if they are in focus. lol This picture doesn't show some of the dishes that were brought out later. A Wuhan specialty is in the pot in the middle. It's lotus root. When it is stewed, it gets soft, but has long stringy webs inside it. It's good, but the stringy things are a little putting off at times. The two dishes right in front of me were stomach. They were pretty good. I was able to get away with not eating any of the chicken's feet. It's not really my thing.
There is a park area in the middle of their compound that had lanterns hung all the way around it. They were brightly lit and it was really festive. Here are a couple of pictures I took.
Afterward, the host played his guitar for us. Isn't his little girl cute? I made some finger puppets and took to give to her. I think her fingers are still too short, so her mother put chopsticks inside them and she carried them around all night. :)
My husband and I, because of our religion, don't drink alcohol. The Chinese love to make toasts at dinner. They do this often throughout the meal. They like to think of some sort of wish for you when they make the toast. I have to admit that it's hard for me to think of good wishes to say. After using "may you prosper", "here's to your good health this year", and "May you have peace", I sort of ran out of ideas. lol Maybe it's easier to think of what to say if you have a few drinks under your belt. ;)
I really appreciate these kind folks welcoming us in to their home and inviting us to celebrate with them. I hope I get the chance to reciprocate with my own holiday traditions in America some day!