Note from our founder.
Returning to Fujian in my early pre-teens was something I deeply dreaded while growing up. "Why do I have to fly back to a country we all chose to leave?" I questioned my parents.
Standing out like a sore thumb in primary school was challenging enough, being the only Chinese kid (a label bestowed upon me by my classmates, I might add). But starting the term two weeks late due to Chinese New Year celebrations felt not only confusing but also embarrassing at the time.
During my visits to my hometown of Fuqing, I encountered traditions I adored – watching my grandma play mahjong against my aunties, enjoying rice cakes filled with red beans for breakfast, and receiving gifts from relatives, from odd (fake) toys to a small jade necklace. Alongside these cherished moments, there were aspects of tradition I didn’t enjoy – the harassment of unmarried and childless relatives, and the relentless comparisons between members of the family.
However, looking back, I am eternally grateful for that experience. Even more so, understanding that my parents took turns taking us back each year not because it was ‘easier’, but because it was the only financially feasible option for them – as one had to stay back in Australia to sew, to make it work out.
This annual trip back and big family gathering has since dissipated with the passing of my grandparents several years ago. It’s hard to gather and reunite as everyone’s life appears to be seemingly more complex, and the central catalysts are now gone. This year, upon reflection, I’ve witnessed this once frustrating memory fade into a glimmer of nostalgia, all sitting within my small jade necklace.
I can’t imagine ever hating this trip back now, as an adult. Partially because, as most do as they obtain a few more experiences, I’ve transitioned from a constant battle to assimilate within Australian culture to embracing the acceptance of my differences, a journey I’m still undergoing, and will continue to share in the designs and stories of Graedance.
As traditions fade out, I begin to realize that new ones can take form - taking upon the best elements. This small letter from me is just to wish you a happy Chinese New Year and to share that the Year of the Dragon will be an exciting one for us - where we can hopefully create more objects that become catalysts for your traditions and memories, imbued with elements of the cultural gray areas we all share together.
Lots of love,