'This Next New Year'

STORY TIME

January 24, 2001|By Janet S. Wong

Editor's note: A young boy aims for new beginnings and better luck with the onset of Chinese New Year.

This next new year is about to begin, not the regular new year, January 1, when we watch the Rose Parade and football games and make crazy New Year's resolutions, but the lunar new year, the day of the first new moon.

I call it Chinese New Year even though I am half Korean and my mother cooks duk gook, the Korean new year soup.

My best friend Glenn, who is French and German, calls it Chinese New Year, too, even though he celebrates at his house by eating Thai food to go. And my other best friend Evelyn, who is part Hopi and part Mexican, says Chinese New Year is her favorite holiday because she likes to get red envelopes stuffed with money from her neighbor who came from Singapore.

This next new year is going to be good, the best year ever. I can feel it in my hands. They say you are coming into money when your palms itch, and my palms have been itching for days. My brother thinks it's warts, but I know the luck is coming because we're started early, for once, and our luck is long overdue.

Mother is sweeping last year's dust into piles so big all I can figure is no wonder we've had so much trouble lately. I will move these mountains of bad luck off the floor and into the trash, brushing every last crummy crumb into my dustpan.

One last piece of the porcelain vase that broke when the ball slipped our of my hand -- gone!

A river off leaves from the plant that died even though I meant to water it soon -- gone!

The cricket I found one day in my shoe who made a good pet until he escaped -- Oh, poor cricket, I looked for you -- all that bad luck, gone!

We are scrubbing our house rough and raw so it can soak up good luck like an empty sponge.

And tonight I am washing my hair and drying it extra dry so it can soak up some good luck, too, and that luck can drip into my brain and come to my rescue at school.

I am cutting my nails and even cleaning the dirt out from the corners of my big toenails so the luck can squeeze itself in there and take me where I want to go.

I am flossing my teeth so I will have something smart to say next time you catch me by surprise.

I don't have the new clothes I need, but I have saved the cleanest ones I own for this big day and if everything works you can bet I will have new clothes soon.

This year I am not going to jump out of my skin when we light the firecrackers at midnight to scare the bad luck away and wake up all the neighbors. I will be brave.

I will not even hide my face inside the crowd during the parade when they light the long strings of firecrackers that pop pop pop pop pop pop pop all over the place.

And all day tomorrow, Lunar New Year's Day, I will not say one awful thing, none of that can't do, don't have, why me because this is it, a fresh start, my second chance, and I have so many dreams, so many dreams I'm ready now to make come true.

THIS NEXT NEW YEAR and 3 illustrations by Janet S. Wong, illustrated by Yangsook

Choi. Copyright c 2000 by Janet S. Wong. Illustrations copyright c 2000 by Yangsook Choi. Reprinted by permission of Farrar, Straus and Giroux, LLC. Visit Janet's Web site at www.janetwong.com.

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