Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Mid-Autumn Festival

October 3 was Mid-Autumn Festival, a time to gather with family, look at the moon, and eat mooncakes. My student's father told me that even though I am far from home, I can look at the full moon on Mid-Autumn Day and know that my loved ones in America are looking at the same moon. (At least they would be, if it wasn't broad daylight back in Central Daylight Time!)

For the noon meal, we went to Grandpa's apartment and enjoyed a spread of food made by my student's mother: a centerpiece carp, clams, shrimp, crab, chicken, bean sprouts, and several other dishes. Grandpa didn't speak English and was very hard-of-hearing, but he was really happy to have me there and kept smiling and nodding his head at me.

My student wanted to go to KTV (karaoke), so we went and sang loud, off-key pop songs for a few hours with her friends. KTV is a hugely popular activity in Asia, and it's nice because you get your own room for just you and your friends -- no more public embarrassment! The English song selection was a little slim unless you like Backstreet Boys, Madonna, Britney Spears, or Celine Dion.

Then it was time to walk over to Grandma and Grandpa's apartment for another huge feast. Several of Angela's aunts, uncles, and cousins were there, which made for a warm, fun atmosphere. I was still STUFFED from lunch, but this did not prevent me from being served mountains of food. Being the guest, I was given the first and best from the table: the biggest crab, the juiciest worms, the roundest haws, the freshest shrimp, and the crispiest bugs. I managed to avoid the chicken feet, but everything else was fair game. One of the uncles proposed a toast every few minutes while we were eating, which was fun for the uncles because they were drinking the famous Qingdao beer, and fun for me because I actually knew what to say in Chinese -- "Gan bei!" ("Cheers!"). We toasted the holiday, the grandparents, my parents (why not?), and just about everything else.

Then the adults relaxed around the table while I went to play cards with my student and two cousins. At about 8:30, Angela's father announced they had found me a train ticket home for the next morning, so we had to go back so I could rest. Grandma gave me a huge bag of haws, pomegranates, and apples to eat in case I got hungry on the train, and off we went.

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