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Last week, I was in Asia for work and over Skype, in a complete role reversal, found myself nagging my wife to make sure our 11-month-old got a haircut in preparation for Chinese New Year. Getting a haircut is the sole New Year's ritual I have been diligent observing in my adult life, meaning the one that I've followed through on entirely on my own without my mother or grandmother having to remind me.

I don't know why I chose the haircut as my ritual. Because it's practical? Because it's easy? I can't even say that I really know the significance of it. I know that using scissors and knives are supposed to be bad luck on New Year's, so I am not sure why people get haircuts. I know that people like to get new clothes for the New Year to symbolize a fresh start. It could fall into that category, I guess.

Wait . . . I just looked up on the ever-reliable source known as the Internet that the superstition is that if you get a haircut during the first month of the Lunar Year, your maternal uncle will die. Wow, that's pretty heavy.

Not to be insensitive, but truly, none of that means anything to me. I can't say I consider any of those things when I make sure to get a haircut before New Year's. I just know I need to do it. But why?

I suppose that holding onto this simple ritual is a reminder of my past and where I came from. It's not nostalgia. It's just a nudge to look back and remember. My family has a history and a culture. I can delve into it or not but every year, in case I've forgotten, I'm given that choice. And now, by way of haircut, I hope to pass that choice down to my son.

Alex Tse is a Hollywood screenwriter who made his debut with a TV movie called Sucker Free City, which was co-produced and directed by Spike Lee. He also co-wrote the Watch Men and is currently working on the The Crow, which is slated to be released next year. He lives in southern California with his wife and son.

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