Even before CNY, I had an inkling that things would be different this year. Already, there were signs of it, with this being the first CNY as the ‘only child’ at home after both siblings got married and move out, this also being the first CNY where I was neither working nor studying. So, how was it different? For a start, spring cleaning this year was much more work than usual. I used to only have to clean my half of the room, now I have to also clean what used to be sister’s half of the room and what used to be brother’s room. As such, I was cleaning almost non-stop for 2 full days prior to CNY’s eve and still did not manage to finish cleaning everything. Seriously, I am beginning to think that housework is the best exercise. >_<
Since I started work, I have always taken it upon myself to buy all the CNY goodies. As early as in Dec 2014 I would start placing orders for pineapple tarts and cookies, both for myself, extended family and close friends. However, this year, given that I now had more time on my hands, I also tried to help with grocery shopping (affectionately referred to at home as CNY market-ing), so that mum would have less bags to carry. This being the first time I was doing this, I realised I had no sense of reality – the wide range of food available as well as the wide range of prices for similar food! It truly takes an experienced housewife to know what to do. I could only rely on friends who were familiar to help me with this.
As with past years, reunion dinner would be held at my place, with dad being the eldest son. Mum was in-charge of all the food preparation, which was still quite a bit of work even though we have opted for steamboat dinner. Previously, sister and brother would be home to help with serving and seeing to the needs of our extended family. This year, I had to take on that role and help with serving, which turned out wasn’t that easy as I tried to ensure everyone had equal portions of the soup that dad ordered. That aside, some things just don’t change, no matter how our circumstances change – when the entire extended family get together, we sure do become extremely noisy!
An unexpected hiccup this year was brother coming home late due to work. It was unfortunate and we were glad that he did manage to make it back. However, it does make me pause and think if the situation will get worse in future, as more and more of the younger cousins start work, would we all be able to make it home in time for reunion?
For my family, CNY visitation meant extended time hanging out with the extended family at different locations. A departure from the norm this year would be the cousins going for movies two nights in a row after dinner. We planned to watch 《冲上云霄》because it was a drama series that most of us grew up watching, which turned out to be a disappointment. This led to the suggestion to catch “Kingsmen” to make up for it. It turned out to be a better choice though I still found parts of it rather lame. Then again, at this point in time, I am of the view that any movie would be better than 《冲上云霄》.
Finally, after two days of visitation, movies and food aplenty, I have a quiet moment to myself, holed up in my room, music playing in the background as I read and blog, which made me reflect – what is the big deal about CNY and what is the point? Its cultural and historical significance aside, what does it truly mean to each and everyone of us who ‘celebrate’ CNY?
There are aspects of these celebrations that I might not enjoy as much (i.e. questions that I do not wish to answer) but each year, we go through the same well-oiled routine… For me, CNY is a time dedicated to family. Whether or not I like that particular family member, I would be civil and polite since I could not avoid interaction. Whether or not I am really free, I would make time to be with my extended family and put everything else aside. It is also a time where we renew our ties and connections, catch up with the on-goings on each other’s life and show care and concern for each other. Most importantly, we also start the lunar new year with thanksgiving and honouring our parents and elders.
I am not always successful in trying to do all the above. However, as long as I keep trying, there is always a chance I will eventually get it right. 🙂
P.S. I learnt something new this CNY, learning from my younger cousins how to use 微博, and it is turning out to be quite fun!