When I was a kid, on Chinese New Year's Eve, Mom would cook up a storm and we'd have a family makan. Family meant just our immediate family. Then in the evening, or sometimes the next day, Dad would bring us to visit our paternal grandparents. There would also be visits to my grandparents on Mom's side. Chinese New Year is different for my kids. Their every New Year celebration has been spent at their grandparents' (except once for Son). The prevalence of 'migration' due to work and better opportunities of my generation has somewhat contributed to this different experience for my children.
Years gone by... we're all in our midlife now. CNY is still a time we get together, though often one or two of us might not be able to make it due to distance. These days we tend to have our makan together at the restaurant as Mom is getting along in years.
The passing of F-I-L too has also made us realise that every gathering is precious now. This year we had ours at Michelin Star again. Food was actually better than last year's. Tables had been set when we arrived, with names attached to the tables. I saw quite a few familiar names.... The other reunion dinner was a home cooked one as M-I-L still wanted to cook.
The kids got to play together, with cousins from both sides; and collect their angpows too. I guess for most kids those two are the major highlights. It was so for me at that age too. I guess certain things don't change that much.
And firecrackers... the whole town basically lit up as midnight drew nearer. If you want an ear into what might qualify as absolute noise pollution, you get it on that one night.... your hear cackling, cracking, popping, whooshing, whistling, booms, explosions, sizzles.... And your eyes get to feast on all kinds of colours popping up here and there, like magic, in the sky, appearing and disappearing in colourful trails of light and smoke; a panaromic view cos everywhere you turn, you see them. Whole neighborhoods literally came out to view the spectacular displays of fireworks. Lanterns were released into the sky too; though this year I felt there were fewer. Last year, the effects of Disney's Tangled left the sky very dotted with floating lights. My kids and their cousins had a fun time.... scoring a few firsts for themselves too. Their childhood is not as carefree as mine.... they don't get the chance as we did year after year as we were growing up, even just to light the firecrackers.
These days, CNY is more 'work' than play for me cos most of the time is spent chasing after this or that... kids and everyday mundane tasks like clearing up. But in all that, they were interspersed with things that make life meaningful.... conversations, interactions... those things that serve to strengthen bonds and give meaning to life. You know, there are points in our lives when some of us might feel that we want to get away from all the hassles associated with festive seasons; clogged highways, packed eating places, constant need to be on the feet because the kids (and the older ones) cannot wait, etc, etc. So some of us would very much like to opt to go somewhere quiet to take a break from all the preoccupation and demands that come with this chasing of our career, wealth... And that is why we should have celebrations such as CNY, to give us no excuse for not making it home, for the family reunion. For many of us, it takes the demand of duty to get us there, even though we know our parents would very much want us to be there with them... Think of the times our parents were there for us each time we needed them when we were kids.... Today, many of us can't do the same......
Most of us are back to our normal routine by now... I supposed too it's okay to say that the feeling of getting together often times is no less exhilarating than a trip somewhere. 8) Am thankful for this one more CNY. The dragon has entered....