Happy New Year

Last night, before our Laotian feast at Khe-Yo restaurant began, the chef's mother attended our table and performed a traditional New Year's blessing over our hands.

Using a flowering stem like a wand, she dipped its white petals in a golden pot of water and brushed away the past year's troubles from our open palms. Then she tied orange and white bracelets around our wrists, welcoming in good fortune for the year to come.

"Or, forever," she added.

I'm leaning toward the second option.