Memories Captured: Cousins and Chinese New Year

sunset oakland hills

I have a lot of cousins. First cousins and second cousins and fake cousins (i.e. children of close family friends) and real cousins. Weekends were full of family get-togethers. Our parents would eat and drink and play mah-jong upstairs while the kids played and ran wild in the basement. We literally grew up together. Those are some of my best memories of my childhood.

Cousins reunited

Living in New York City, my kids don’t have the same kinds of get-togethers with their cousins. My brother and sister and their families all live in California. While we do see each other once or twice a year, it’s not the same as weekly gatherings. Sometimes I wonder if my kids are missing out.

This weekend, we traveled to California to celebrate Chinese New Year. Sharing my Chinese culture and heritage has always been hard for me so being around family who can share the traditions and stores is all the more important to me. My mom can explain the importance of red envelopes and why we eat certain foods on the holiday like egg rolls and rice cakes and shrimp and green vegetables. The cousins can sing Chinese songs and dance for the kids.

Chinese New Year Red Envelopes

Chinese New Year Dinner

Chinese New Year Dinner

cousins Chinese New Year Dinner

The kids obviously love each other so much and are so excited to play with each other. Now that they are getting older, it’s fascinating to watch their relationships develop. They run around like a little pack, feeding off each other’s energy until it spirals into craziness – just how I remember it being with my cousins.

Biking on the Embarcadero

Scootering on the Embarcadero

Chinese New Year brunch

Chinese New Year brunch – cousins keeping themselves busy with books and iPhones.


I can’t wait to continue to watch their relationships grow and develop.

Did you grow up with a big family? Are your kids?

{Linking up with Alison and Galit for Memories Captured. PS – This is the last Memories Captured link-up for a little bit so you should go and link-up your post. I’ve loved sharing my memories and reading about yours.}


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  1. says

    I’m the same way. Growing up all of our extended family was around. We only saw each other maybe 8 times a year but we were close. My brothers and I are all over so we never see each other. It’s sad but none of us are moving any time soon to change it.

    Enjoy the rest of your time together!
    Angela @ Happy Fit Mama recently posted..Running in the SnowMy Profile

  2. says

    We have just moved closer to our families, and it is soo nice that our kids get to hang out often now finally. I didn’t grow up near extended family, so this is a whole new experience for me. Thanks for sharing your beautiful memories.
    Mama Melch recently posted..Memories CapturedMy Profile

    • admin says

      Thank you for sharing yours! It is a special experience to grow up near family I think and I am extremely grateful that I was able to and my kids can too (while we’re far from family in California, we do live near other family).

    • admin says

      We’re not – we leave that morning. I’m kind of bummed because we missed the parade in NYC too. Everybody loves the red envelopes!

  3. says

    I have no real cousins (only the fake kind), but boy did we make memories. I still laugh thinking about some our antics. And, we all still get together anytime we are in town. It is so much fun to watch our little ones play and have fun together. We may not have the blood bond, but we’re bonded like blood.

    I’m glad you had a great trip!
    Michelle recently posted..Animation FascinationMy Profile

  4. says

    What a great weekend for you all! Great for the kids to spend time with cousins and be immersed in tradition. So glad you got out and got to enjoy it all.

    I live a few states away from family and do wish my kids had more time with their cousins/aunts/uncles/grandparents. However, we’re not moving there (Ohio) and I don’t suppose they’re coming here, so it will remain the occasional get together.
    misszippy recently posted..Post-run slugMy Profile

  5. says

    What great memories for your kids! I sometimes have that same guilt about being so far from cousins and grandparents, and wonder if L is missing out. But that seems to be the norm these days, with everyone going where the jobs are and moving around. Makes the times when you do get together extra special!
    Laura @ Mommy Run Fast recently posted..RRCA Certification RecapMy Profile

  6. heidi @bananabuzzbomb says

    Love that you traveled to california for the Chinese New Year to visit family. I have a pretty large family (close to 30 first cousins on one side) and love that I was brought up with such a large family that I consider close. I’m a very lucky girl. Happy new year!

    • admin says

      Definitely know what you mean about feeling lucky to have a big family. It’s a gift for sure. And watching the little ones together and seeing them bond is pretty incredible

  7. says

    Mine wasn’t a big family but I was really close with one of my cousins. She and I had so much fun together. She was the closest thing I had to a sister. Then we moved and yadda, yadda…we lost that closeness.

    I love that you are doing your best to give your boys that closeness even being on opposite coasts! Also, how darn cute are your boys?! I can’t stand it!
    Kristen recently posted..Valentine’s Day Don’tsMy Profile

    • admin says

      I do remember my relationship with my cousins as being super special when I was growing up. But like you, people moved and things changed and we lost touch. It’s funny but after all these years I’m reconnecting with some cousins through FB and it’s been great to get to know each other again.

  8. says

    Love this! Hopefully the kids will all grow up to be close. I am the second oldest cousin of 15 on my mom’s side and while we are all older now, we still connect with each other and got to spend Christmas together which was a blessing.

    How about the timing of your trip too? No Nemo for you! 😉
    katie recently posted..Weekend Recap and RamblingsMy Profile

  9. says

    Chinese New Year when I was a kid? I loved it. I have many cousins and we would all gather at my grandmother’s house for the reunion dinner, then the next day where red packets would be exchanged, and the highlight of our day would be the lion dance.

    Sadly, CNY is not the same anymore. My dad tries to uphold some tradition – but reunion dinners are held at packed restaurants. The first day, my parents host a lunch at their house, and it’s chaos. I didn’t go back this year, the stress of driving with 2 kids on what would be jam packed roads put me off. Instead, we enjoyed the rare quiet of KL city!

    Kong Hei Fatt Choy!
    Alison recently posted..Memories Captured February Linkup, And Some NewsMy Profile

    • admin says

      When we come out to California for Chinese New Year, I feel like it’s the same or similar in terms of celebration and family gatherings as when I grew up. But if we’re home in NYC, it’s definitely different and not as special for some reason. Maybe it’s the packed restaurants but I’m not sure why. A quiet day sounds MUCH better than being stuck in a car with 2 kids!

      Gung Hay Fat Choi to you too Alison!

  10. says

    I too have such fond memories of playing with my large group of cousins while growing up. I am glad my daughter lives near her cousins so she gets similar experiences, at times she even calls them her sisters. :) Danica
    Danica Martin recently posted..Carnaval TimeMy Profile

  11. says

    It looks like you had an amazing time! The only bad thing must have been leaving :( . I love Chinese New Year! I know, I know, stupid white chick knows nothing, but I love the traditions, the symbols, these are the things that get me through my life, small tokens to remind me to stay centered, you know what I mean? I love family gatherings and celebrating new beginnings. Plus, my ex-husband (did I just say that out loud? ehh) anyway, he is still one of my best friends and happens to be Vietnamese, he and his family always would say, still do, that I am more Asian than some of the Asian/American girls, I’m not sure exactly what they mean, but I am so very flattered that they think that. :) In what Chinese year were you born (animal) ?
    Lisa @ RunWiki recently posted..Kyle’s Krusade ResultsMy Profile

    • admin says

      ohmygoodness love you and this comment! You are absolutely right that the traditions and the symbols help us to stay centered (even in my family drives me crazy sometimes!).

  12. says

    I only had two cousins growing up and the lived in CO. We rarely saw them, so at holiday gatherings it was just my brother, sisters and I. Now we are all married and starting to have kids: my son and daughter have two cousins (making four all under the age of three) and more to follow I’m sure. I love that they will get to have the experience of a big family that I never had.
    Sarah @RunFarGirl recently posted..There is No Pain WorseMy Profile

  13. says

    Yay! So happy you made it out there despite the snow! And while I do not have a big family, I love it when my kids get together with their cousin/my niece. It’s such an important part of their extended family.
    ilene recently posted..My Evil MistressMy Profile

    • admin says

      That’s so great that you live close to your nieces and nephews! It’s been fun hanging around the kids and watching their relationship develop with each other.


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