Sunday Nov 11, 2007

Should breakfast be sweet or salty?

Recently one of my American friends married a wonderful Chinese woman, and Buddy and I were honored when they asked us to officiate the Beijing ceremony. (They had multiple weddings all around the world so they could celebrate with all their friends and family.) Here's the homily we gave, in Chinese and English -

Aaron and Jia Ling, if your experience is anything like Buddy's and mine, your life as a Chinese-American couple is going to be as exciting as Disneyland and as rich as red silk. Some people say that international marriages are more difficult, and it's true that especially in the beginning, we did have a few arguments that 2 Chinese people or 2 American people probably wouldn't have. For example, we argued over whether we'd spend our first paycheck on a coffee machine or a rice cooker. Will we baptize our kids? Will we circumcise our son? Should breakfast be sweet or salty? Which is better: marble or carpet?

But once you get over those initial bumps, you'll find the many benefits of a cross-cultural marriage. For example you two will probably work very hard on communication - since you don't share a common native language you know this is one of your challenges as a couple. But since you focus on it more, you might actually communicate better than some couples who do share a native language.

We also found that in a cross-cultural marriage it's quite easy to maintain harmony between the extended family members because more often than not – they can't talk to each other!

As an international couple, you might find you have fewer opportunities for certain kinds of arguments anyway. For example you probably won't have to argue over whose family you'll spend Christmas Eve with. At Chinese New Year you won't be shuffling from his family to her family and back again. One day when you have kids, they'll get presents from Santa Claus at Christmas and a few weeks later at Chinese New Year they'll get hongbao from relatives. They'll know how to carve a pumpkin and they'll know how to make pot stickers. Aaron your parents will be able to teach your kids how to bake an apple pie and with any luck, Jia Ling's parents will potty train them before they're a year old.

It's exciting to think of all the challenges and benefits you two will experience in your years together. Please know that all of us, your friends and family, are always here for you if you need us. We'll be cheering for you, and we'll be watching you grow in your love for one another.

Chinese version:
如果您也和我一样,娶了美国的老婆或是嫁给美国的老公,那你的生活将象迪丝尼乐园一样刺激,象红丝绸一样充满内涵。有人说,国际婚姻更会遇到很多困难,比在股市上赚钱还难.,在刚结完婚的最初的日子里,我们的确不乏争论. 举例来说,我们争论是应该买咖啡机还是电饭煲。我们是否应该让孩子接受洗礼?早餐吃面包还是油条?家里铺大理石还是地毯。 但一旦你克服这些最初的坎坷,你会发现跨国婚姻有很多的好处.举例来说,无论用那种语言,其中一个人用的肯定不是母语.夫妻双方反而回更加用心去交流. 我们还发现,一个跨文化的婚姻里,娘家和亲家很容易维持和谐关系,因为彼此话语不通! 但作为一对国际夫妻,你享有很多优势.你不用担心圣诞节应该在谁家过;中国的大年三十你也不用急于从婆家赶回娘家;等ARON和佳铃有了小孩,他们刚从圣诞节老人那里收到圣诞礼物,又可以从亲戚那里拿到红包.他们就会知道如何雕刻南瓜,同时学会包饺子。Aaron 的父母将教孩子如何烤苹果派,贾玲的爸爸妈妈将训练他们一岁以后就不再用尿不湿。 这是一个何等激动人心的时刻.在新娘和新郎跨如婚姻殿堂之际,我们今天在这里的每一个人,所有喜爱你们的亲朋好友,都在为你们欢呼,本为你们祝福!祝愿你们夫妻恩爱, 白头携老!

Friday Oct 05, 2007

More stories from my kid's school in China

Audrey's teacher at her school here in Beijing has apparently told all the kids they need to take their backpacks off the rollers and carry them on their backs.

"You're kidding me!" I said to my husband. Her backpack weighs a ton. "You've got to call her teacher and protest," I told him.

"The teacher has been saying this for weeks," my husband replied.

With this classic example of indirect communication, what he means is that we should quietly resist and see if we can get away with it.

I think many Chinese have this sense for which rules must be followed (only one kid) and which ones can be ignored (stop signs). We'll see which category the Backpack Mandate falls under....

Sunday Sep 30, 2007

We won!

My family and I just won a trip to France! You know that contest I told you that my family and I were in? They just announced that we won!!! I can't believe it. Apparently it was the cell phone votes that put us over the top so many, many, many thanks to all of you who voted for us.

In addition to the trip to France we also get to use a Picasso car for a year.

Wow. So exciting. I'm still kinda speechless.

eiffel tower

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