Ming trudged through the snow in her ratty brown cloth shoes. She could barely feel her feet because water had seeped through the thin cloth and numbed her toes. All around her, fiery red lanterns hung from windows and large sheets of red paper boasting Chinese poems were plastered on doors. Today was the Lunar New Year, the most important day for the Chinese. Everybody would celebrate late into the night all the while singing traditional songs and eating delicious cuisine. Firecrackers would go off, and men would parade around dressed up in dragon and lion costumes. The Lunar New Year welcomed spring, families would perform thousand-year-old rituals that promised good fortune and prosperity. Everyone would be in the best of moods. Everyone, except for Ming. .
Two months ago, Ming's father had been involved in a farming accident. The accident left him with another interesting story to tell, but one less arm. He had been fired from his farm job immediately, and no other farm was willing to hire a crippled man. Up to then, the main source of family income came from Ming's father, but now her mother had to support the family by selling hot steamed buns outside the family house. The family now barely made it by, but Ming tried to make the best of it. Instead of wasting money on paper, she practiced her calligraphy in the snow substituting the stick for a brush. For lunch, Ming brought a leftover bun from the previous day to school and ate it slowly, trying to make it last as long as possible. It was hard, but Ming hid her inner feelings from her parents and acted as if nothing out of the ordinary had happened. .
When Ming got home, she didn't see her mother selling steamed buns, nor did she see her father lying on his cot. It was strange, but she figured they were just purchasing more flour. Since it was Chinese new year, the teacher had not assigned any homework, instead the teacher had told the students to write a journal entry about the importance of Chinese New Year.