Talking about Chinese New Year until I’m horse

What would a Year of the Horse party be without a horse?

Or two?

Or three?

One of Leo’s friends decorated this bag for her hostess gift.

Or four?

Or a whole herd?

The first year we celebrated Chinese New Year, way back in 2010, was the Year of the Tiger. We didn’t really know what to do, so we put a plastic tiger on the cake.

Now we are much more experienced. This year my sister Treasa offered to make a gorgeous horse cake.

Then I bought horse finger puppets and stuck them on cupcakes, and we pulled out every toy horse we could find.

We ate like horses, diving into cartons of lo mein, fried rice, a tray of egg rolls, and a few homemade dishes, too.

Then the children galloped around the house like horses.

And the house was louder than the whole crowd at the Preakness Stakes.

By the end of the night most of the adults were hoarse from shouting over the sword-waving stampede.

But it was fun.

One of the highlights this year was that the mother of one of Leo’s classmates offered to make homemade dumplings with us. She is from China. That is not at all unusual for our Chinese New Year party guest list, but in her case she came to the United States as an adult.

She brought along pre-made dumpling wrappers and a filling she can’t even give me the recipe for because it changes each time she makes it.

I thought I knew how to make dumplings—and I do. But our friend knows how to pleat the dumplings in this amazing, artistic way. I would describe it for you if I had actually mastered it, but I will need to keep practicing.

Our friend reminded us of the tradition of inserting a coin into a dumpling; the person who finds it will have luck in the New Year. Because many of our guests were children, we decided to use Skittles. And I didn’t get the Skittle or the luck. But the dumplings! Oh, the dumplings! They were so, so good.

Not that I’ve ever met a dumpling I didn’t like. Or a Chinese New Year celebration, for that matter.

At the end of the night, I realized we had been having so much fun that we had forgotten to play Pin the Tail on the Horse. So Leo and Daniel played themselves.

And the bubble wrap I had ready for our “fireworks” display was untouched in a corner.

At first I was disappointed. Then it hit me. You know you’ve thrown a successful party when everyone was having too much fun to stop to set the fireworks off.

Catholic Review

The Catholic Review is the official publication of the Archdiocese of Baltimore.