> This weekend I attended the Chinese New Year Parade and realized I was there for more than just the floats and free candy (although that is of course a large part of it). In a big city it isn’t socially customary to smile at strangers, let alone wave. I have missed this immensely and had an incredible time at the parade waving at all the strangers in floats I wanted to – without any repercussions. Heck, I even waved when they couldn’t wave back (such as having the important job of holding one of the parts of the dragon).

It was wonderful, but what was even more wonderful than the waving was feeling a part of a community. Since moving, I’ve missed that familiarity. Comfortable and oddly familiar were exactly how I felt being there among people with so much diversity in the same city coming together to celebrate a holiday. There were people everywhere yelling “Happy New Year” and each time I felt a twinge of belonging. My favorite part of the parade (besides hearing “Eye of the Tiger” 6.5 million times) were the school marching bands. It seems the whole bay area enjoys celebrating together and I’m so honored I got to be a part of it and wave to my little (now big) heart’s content.

Today I’m grateful for dragons, lion dancers, and firecrackers.

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