Sunday, May 10, 2009

And now for something completely different...

I'm taking a break from my Asian celebration to say a quick word about Mother's Day.

This morning I attended a lovely service that was focused on Julia Ward Howe (pictured here) as the original founder of the Mother's Day of Peace around the 1870s. After she penned the poem that would later be set to music as the Battle Hymn of the Republic, she became a peace activist.

It was a really nice way to remember the origins of Mother's Day (yes, it is to honor women...but remembering the peace origins helps take the edge off of commercialism!).

Then, there is the other edge I have to deal with. Being an adoptee, I have a wonderful mother to celebrate. Real flesh and blood. Someone who has demonstrated her true love for me a thousand times over by caring for me my whole life. Someone who is still a big part of my life today. And then I have a mother I have never met. Someone who is out there who gave birth to me. Someone who shares the same genetic material as me. And is a complete stranger.

Mother's Day is a challenging day for me. I was unprepared for the emotional challenges this year. I've come to prepare myself for my birthday (another challenging celebration/mourning), but this is the first year that I thought about my emotional "tug-of-war" on Mother's Day.

I'll be ready next year.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

More Asian Experiences

Here are some more videos (extended clips) of the Asian American experience. Special Thanks to the Asia Society for providing them. I'm having trouble with embedding the videos...but click on the link to open in YouTube.

George Takei: Sulu of TV's Star Trek - and the Lesson of Internment

Kal Penn: I like his ideals about the "American identity" is superceding racial identity. We're on the right track...if only it could be true everywhere...

One of my favorites: Sandra Oh of TV's Grey's Anatomy. As someone who did not grow up with many asians around me or in the media (with the exception of Connie Chung), I say "right on, sister!"

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Japan's Children's Day

Continuing with my APA Heritage Month Celebration...

May 5 is "Kodomo no hi" in Japan. The 5th day of the 5th month.  The date was the date of the traditional Tango no Sekku (端午の節句) festival, originally commonly known as Boys' Day, whereas Girls' Day was celebrated separately on March 3. The holidays were merged in 1948. On the right are "koinobori" - carp flags - which are flown on Children's Day, symbolizing success and each one represents a male in the family.

Even though the holidays were "merged", it was still a very boy-centric holiday when I lived in Japan. Traditionally, it is a day to pray for the health of boys in your family. Families take pictures of their boys in front of "shrines" adorned with samurai helmets and horses. See the picture here, taken of my youngest son while we lived in Tokyo. 
The "koinobori" flags are pictured at the top and you can see the samurai helmet at the center of the display. I must admit, there are lots of things in the display for which I don't know the significance...I just enjoyed the day off of work and was able to spend time with Japanese friends. 

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Asian Pacific American Heritage Month

Wow - where did all the time go? It is May already?
Well, I must take a moment to celebrate Asian Pacific American Heritage Month:-). Hopefully, May will bring more posts to my blog - and a common theme of celebrating the contributions of people of Asian and Pacific Islander descent in the United States.

There's so much rich history - I'm overwhelmed even thinking about where to begin. I guess I'll start with my history...

Even though I'm adopted, I know quite a bit about the Japanese side of my biological family, which is my biological mother's side. My maternal grandfather was Japanese American who was a U.S. Army officer. He was stationed in Japan, outside of Tokyo. There he met his wife, a Japanese National. My biological mother was born in Tokyo and the family moved to the U.S. when she was young. Unfortunately, I do not know any great accomplishments of my maternal of the many things kept from me as a product of a closed adoption. However, I was able to study Japanese when I went to college and lived in Japan for twelve years.

I am proud to be a mixed Japanese American. I also love to see my kids identifying with their Japanese side...interest in the language, celebrating the culture, eating the food...even though they haven't picked up too many of my Asian physical traits. And, yes, they CAN use chopsticks:-).

To close out, here is a video about why "Asians Rock"!