A Cotton Wedding Anniversary

Today, 22nd April 2011, marks the second anniversary of my wedding with Su. Since 1970, the world has been marking this day, the twenty second day of April, with environmental issues, and in 2009, the United Nations resolved to celebrate the day as “World Earth Day” which coincided with our wedding. We should have no problem remembering our anniversary hence forth. On this day in 1912, Tsinghua University in Beijing, of which I am an alumnus, was founded. I learned this when I did a short course there in 1998. Today is also Good Friday. For Catholics, it is to be a day of fasting, abstinence and prayers.

Su has been taking Catechism classes since November 2009 and is preparing for her baptism on Easter Vigil. She therefore understands that we should observe Good Friday on this day. We had also put off a friend’s offer to celebrate the occasion.

Everyone probably celebrates anniversaries differently. Last year, Su and I had a quiet dinner in the Japanese restaurant of the hotel in which we stayed for our wedding week, which might explain why we had a call from the restaurant earlier in the evening asking whether we would be having dinner there tonight.

We spent the day together, except for the two hours I spent in the club for some very much needed exercises. We had our home made juice for breakfast together and had a simple meal before we went to Ricci Hall Chapel for the Good Friday service. We then went to buy some seeds and gardening equipment. Su has a plan to grow herbs and vegetables at her rooftop in Park Road, and I am her gardener. I began some preliminary work of loosening the soil from some old and broken pots when it began to drizzle. In the meantime, Su made another simple vegetarian meal which we both enjoyed very much. After dinner, we had a sharing session on the past two years and were grateful that we had had a wonderful and happy two years, only that time passed by too quickly. Su then resumed her studies while I began to surf the internet, pausing at my own blog which prompted this letter.

I had browsed through a few of my past letters, including the one written on another anniversary. Lawrence was in Hong Kong at the time, but I hardly saw him then. These days, I learnt the latest update on him through Facebook and sometimes through my friend Edward who has been spending more time in New York than in Hong Kong. I had a chance meeting with a Rotarian at breakfast recently during which we talked about our children. I was asked whether I missed my children and whether I would worry over them. We ended up discussing the art of parenting and the need to let go when the children had grown up.

Of course I miss my children. I also miss my parents, Rosita and many friends. Of course I am worried, but not all the time, not enough to make me lose too much sleep. I often ask the question what one can do when the children have grown up. My answer is, “Not a lot.” They have their own lives; they would choose their own friends and enemies, and most importantly, their own problems and worries.

It reminds me of my own Rotary club, the one of which I am the Charter President. I once wrote a piece in my club bulletin, the famous Kingspark News, on the role of a charter president, after I had spoken on the role of the president and past presidents. Very briefly, I said that while there is only one charter president in every club which hence makes his position unique in that sense, his one and only function is to be the president of his year or years and let his successors run the club afterwards. Parents are no different. They would start a family, raise up children and see them go away. In our much cherished Chinese culture and heritage, of course we would like to see them honour their parents and discharge their traditional filial duties, but that has to be left to the karma between them and I can say no more.

Back to wedding anniversaries, there are traditional emblems and hence gifts associated with each, from the first to the hundredth, and there are a number of websites offering ideas on what gifts to buy for each anniversary. Traditionally, the emblems allude to more and increased strengths with a high number. Thus, paper is for the first anniversary, cotton for the second, leather third, wood fifth, and tin or aluminium tenth. From sixtieth onwards, it is diamond related, so that a hundredth anniversary would be known as a 10 caret diamond anniversary. It would suggest that we should buy a 10k diamond for a person celebrating his or her hundredth birthday, never mind wedding anniversary.

Still on anniversaries, this is the tenth anniversary of my governorship in Rotary so that it would be in order for all the Action Presidents to come together for a reunion. I have tentatively marked 3rd June for the occasion, which is a Friday, avoiding the next RI Convention which would take place in May and the Governor’s Beijing visit scheduled around mid June. It would be a great opportunity to reminisce what happened ten years ago, but more relevantly, what has happened since and what is happening ten years on. Watch this column.

And talk to you later.

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