Issue 80 | what does a new year feel like?
Dear Cosmos Community,
Growing, up a new year (both January 1 and Chinese New Year) were sacred holidays. The whole house had to be cleansed of the past year before midnight on New Year’s Eve. Our old vacuum shrieked, the cleaning fluid made the house smell chemical, but it felt right, like cleaning could really banish any lingering bad spirits.
My mom, dad, sister, and I all had to be showered and in our red pajamas before midnight. My mom was always last, she’d rush out with her hair still wet minutes before the ball dropped in Times Square.
On New Year’s Day, we all wore various shades of red, me and my sister in red velvet sets from Wal-Mart as kids, then reddish sweatpants and sweaters with traces of red on them as we grew up.
We always steamed a whole chicken for dinner. I’m not sure if “steamed a chicken” is the right phrase, it’s one of those rare ones I can say in Cantonese but don’t know how to translate to English — a true reversal of my illiteracy.
We’d offer the best parts of the chicken, the legs and the breast, to our ancestors before dinner. And then, you know, we’d eat them. And then we’d do it all over again, one month later, for Chinese New Year.
My family’s New Year rituals mystified me. They didn’t feel like mine, and I wasn’t sure if I agreed with them. Did I really need to wear red? What if I wash my hair after midnight, what happens then? A terrible year to come? I felt my Americanness tug at me. Why couldn’t we just wear Happy New Year hats and drink champagne out of flute glasses? I still don’t know what that’s like.
But this New Year’s Eve, I cleaned (most) of my apartment. I wore gray sweatpants and a fuzzy purple sweater. I ate fish, saffron rice, and feta and herbs flatbread from a neighborhood Persian restaurant. I showered before midnight, but I didn’t wash my hair (I had the day before). I was in bed by ten o’clock. I laid awake for a while, until I heard a loud cheer from the neighboring bar and fireworks burst in the sky. I smiled and tugged the duvet up to my shoulders. It felt like a new year.
Karen, Co-Founder of The Cosmos
RSVP for a virtual retreat for Asian women to rest, dream, and set intentions for the new year!
January 17 | 3-6pm ET | Get Tickets - Early bird pricing ends Friday 1/7!
Through visualization, arts + crafts, and small group sharing, you'll be supported in reflecting, setting intentions, and creating a vision board that brings your dreams to life (digitally or physically, it'll be up to you!). There will be small group time to share and connect. We'll close with a nourishing 1-hour guided relaxation practice to care for your mental health ❤️
Winter is a time for connecting with ourselves and loved ones, reflecting in cozy corners, listening to our inner voice, and doing less. So come in your PJs, bathrobe, and fuzzy slippers. Bring a friend, a cup of tea, lots of snacks, and a journal. You're invited to curl up on the couch, giggle, and relax with us :)
What you can expect
Guided meditation to visualize the year ahead
Arts + crafts time to create our vision boards!
Small group time to connect, share, and meet each other :)
1-hour guided relaxation practice featuring breath work, meditation, and yoga
Fiona and Jane by Jean Chen Ho (pre-order, or grab a copy when it’s released tomorrow)
I’ve waited all my life for a nuanced, heart wrenching book about Asian American female friendship. Jean Chen Ho writes a series of short stories that knit together the comings and goings of Taiwanese women Fiona and Jane in each other’s lives. I can’t believe it’s taken until 2022 for a book like Fiona and Jane, but I’m hopeful there’s only more coming (see below!) :) I’ll be attending this virtual launch event hosted by Cathy Park Hong tomorrow at 7 PM ET!
Photo Credit: Xinmei Liu, The New York Times
Brown Girls by Daphne Palasi Andreades (pre-order, or grab a copy when it’s released tomorrow)
I’m equally excited for this debut about girlhood, friendship, and coming of age from the perspective of brown girls in Queens, New York. This novel began as a short story called “Brown Girls” — here’s an excerpt that made me want to hug my younger self:
If you really want to know, we are the color of 7-Eleven root beer. The color of sand at Rockaway Beach when it blisters the bottoms of our feet. Color of soil. Color of the charcoal pencil our sisters use to rim their eyes. Color of grilled hamburger patties. Color of our mother’s darkest thread that she loops through the needle. Color of peanut butter. Of the odd gene that makes us fair and white as snow, like whatshername, is it Snow White? (But don’t get it twisted—we’re still brown.) Dark as 7:00 p.m. dusk, when our mothers switch on the light in the empty room. Exclaim, Oh! There you are.
Kulfi Beauty, Underlined Kajal Eyeliner
We were destined to spend our whole lives looking for a good black eyeliner until Kulfi Beauty came along. The founder is a South Asian woman who created Kulfi because “I rarely saw South Asians represented at the forefront. For years, I kept waiting for a brand that celebrated and centered us South Asians in its narrative. All I found were brands that tokenized and appropriated our culture, without even creating shades that worked for our skin tones!”
And close to my heart — last year, Kulfi partnered with the South Asian Sexual & Mental Health Alliance (SASMHA) on a series about self expression and mental health. SASMHA’s mission is to fight cultural stigmas, educate, and empower the South Asian American community by providing resources on the issues most important to the community, from sex and sexuality to mental health.
Send me what you’re most looking forward to in 2022 and I’ll feature it in next week’s Care Package! :)
Note: Book links are connected to The Cosmos Bookshop affiliate page. If you purchase a book from there, you'll be supporting our work and local independent bookstores!