I received an email from China regarding a necklace that I had ordered. “So, sorry,” said the email from Chang. “Cannot ship item for one week. It is National Holiday in China and postal service is closed.”
“That is okay,” I replied, “I will be out of town for a couple weeks anyhow.
“Honey and I had been planning to go on trip with my sister and her husband. If Chang sent the package certified mail, I probably wouldn’t be here to sign for it anyhow.
When you go on a trip with my sister, all you have to do is make the plane reservations and have a place to stay. She knows everything there is to see, has maps and guides, and plans an itinerary. She had also sent me an email saying, “Now that my party is over with, I can concentrate on getting ready for our trip.
She puts a lot of effort into organizing. Her party theme was “A Night to Remember.” Refreshments included star-shaped cookies, and Moon Pies. She recorded background music about the night, the stars and the moon, like “Mr. Sandman” and “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star” Guests were asked to wear pajamas.
But getting back to Chan and the Chinese holiday, “What holiday could it be?” I wondered. As it turned out, I didn’t have to worry for long. I didn’t even have to look it up. The stars must have been in alignment because in another amazing coincidence, a friend and fellow writer wrote a column about the holiday.
It is an ancient Chinese tradition called Festival of the Moon. The Chinese celebrate it by setting outside, looking at the moon and eating a special cake called “Moon Cake” that is very expensive and made especially for this occasion.
There is a Chinese legend to explain their odd behavior. Once upon a time long, long ago, a Chinese man saved the world from an attack by firebirds, and a rabbit popped out of a hat and gave him a pill for immortality as a reward.
Being a man, he put off taking the pill, just like he had been putting off doing all the other items on his honey-do list. So his wife gave up and decided she would swallow the pill for him. When he found the pill gone, he became very angry with his wife and said, “To the moon, Alice” or something similar in Chinese. So, Alice flew to the moon where it was rumored there was a rabbit with a pill to replace the one she ate. Unfortunately, rabbits on the moon had only jellybeans.
I hope my readers will forgive me for elaborating the facts of the legend, but what columnist knows how to explain firebirds that are not made by Pontiac and drug-dealing rabbits?
I don’t suppose the Chinese wear their pajamas to the moon festival like my sister did at her party, but it might add to the festivity. I have heard that beautiful silk pajamas are found in China.
I have noticed that the moon is full and bright orange. I do not drink hot tea but like my tea with ice, lemon and a lot of sugar. I hope iced tea will be okay if I decide to celebrate the Festival of the Moon.
I do not have a recipe for the special moon cake that I am supposed to make. We do have an abundance of Moon Pies in the South. Do you suppose it would be okay to use them instead?
If you see me outside in my pajamas drinking sweet tea and eating a Moon Pie, please do not think the drug-dealing rabbit is passing out pills. It will either be one of my sister’s parties, or else I will be celebrating a belated Festival of the Moon.
Copyright 2012 Sheila Moss