This is Love! Ten-Years-in-Tibet 52.6

Take the money and run? Yes, it's a Lunar New Year tradition to shower kids with red envelopes (like Valentines) containing crisp bills.  During the fifteen day celebration every host and adult party guest comes with a pocket-full of stuffed envelopes or loose cash to bestow on the little ones as they appear.  We noted this tradition from our first year and prepared ourselves to imitate.  This haul was at midnight on New Year's Eve, celebrating at the home of our close, like-family friends.  David had been awakened just before the countdown.  And this is before we found out that you are supposed to wear brand new, unstained clothing, symbolic for "all things new."  Hahahaha!

With every passing year we learned more about the intricacies of bestowing the gift.  Just because someone gives big bucks to one child and not to another isn't necessarily a measure of affection for the child or representation of how much he has to spend.  There may be unspoken expectations of what will be exchanged between two families (often resulting in a near even balance wherein there is no surplus on either side).  We observed how some parents required their kids to remit all funds to them at the end of the day whereas others allowed the kids to keep the cash.  Bowen, Scottie, David, and Ellis were allowed to keep the money which heightened their anticipation of the holiday and created an amusing competition among them (younger kids generally collect more).

Inevitably made Mark and I felt guilty that our kids were growing rich by the unbridled generosity of our Tibetan friends with tight budgets.  But to refuse the gifts or try to return them would have been offensive and would have deprived our friends of what satisfies them most: honoring others by their own sacrifice.  The deeper the sacrifice, the more satisfied they are in giving.  This is love!   In 2009 we hosted a Day 5 Celebration among Tibetan friends because it happened to coincide with David's sixth birthday.  

At the end of a rousing birthday song David was STUNNED when every adult withdrew wads of money and filled his hands with the bounty.  Mark and I were overwhelmed by the gesture.  This expression was not a calculated exchange of expected funds but rather a spontaneous show of lavish love.  

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