For every year that I get to celebrate CNY with both of my parents, I consider it a bonus. This year was a more relaxed CNY in the sense that Mom decided to 'eat out' and I think it is a very wise choice. When I think back of CNY in those long ago days, Mom would always be up at 4 or 5 a.m. in the morning to go to the market to get the ingredients for the reunion lunch... in my house we've always done reunion lunch and not dinner, even from those days.
Mom is getting along in years. She no longer has the energy for the big cookout. By the time we get home, we are tired from the travelling. She understands that and hence she would book the table for the makan. Still, it hasn't really totally spared her from the preparations. We still get to eat our favourites from her. Those dishes now feel even more of a truly a labour of love... A labour despite the discomfort from the a bad back, and everything age related.
I appreciate too my bros making the long journey home. Mom and Dad could always just celebrate CNY nearer to them but my bro insists that he comes back so that our kids could get together, renew ties. 365 days feel like a very lengthy time these days.
CNY is also a time when I see the women folk slogging it out in the kitchen. And I sometimes feel the senselessness of it too... Cos the cooking remains the women's domain. True some may argue that they do the hard work of driving, but increasingly I see this. During a time of supposedly a reunion, much if not all the food preparations are done mainly by the women folk. What is the point of reunion then... Half a morning or even a full morning of preparation, and throw in an evening of preparation as well... the women are cooped up in the kitchen. Makes reunion feel like a reunion of everyone else in the family except the one who is in charge of the food preparations.
The kids had a great time playing cards and firecrackers. I think I have not lighted this many firecrackers in many years. It's wasteful, I know... burning those crackers, but the kids had a truly good time.
CNY too is a time I meet up with my old friends. Old friends from a carefree past. Old friends who grew up known by our parents and in many cases many of whom who watched out for us almost like their own too. My friends and I are trying to make a trip when we turn 50.... just the bunch of us minus our families. So much time has whizzed past. A whole generation!
My oldest friend and I sent our friend back after our little gathering (this year there were six of us) and along the way I passed by my alma mater. We stopped right beside the my Standard One class which was just opposite her mother-in-law's place. The buildings have remained unchanged in the last 40 years! I have not passed that block for ages. How time has flown by... I guess that's how every former who passed by those corridors would feel too.
My friend stopped by to have a chat with my parents and I could see how their eyes light up from the visit. I went to visit my old friend's parents after that too and I see that same lighted faces. That's what celebrations is supposed to mean... lighted faces from the get-togethers, the meet-ups, the rekindling and renewing of ties... the remembering.
As I sat over conversations with my brothers too, I realise that no matter how well we have done, or how successful we have become, that which remain meaningful in our what will be the soon forgotten presence of us on this earth would the be the connections that we made and leave behind. But that too will fade with the passing of time.
Generations will come and will go too. Life probably will remain as what we now experience... the constant struggle and chase for something we deem better. Yet if I ask myself what truly is important, I find myself going back again and again to this thought about my roots, my connections and the people in my life. Sometimes, we forget that and go for stuff which we can measure.... the chase for a better life, the journeys that we embark on to make that a reality, the people whom we leave behind, the comfort zone that we cocoon ourselves into....
Everyone of us.. we get caught up by the busyness of our lives. We chase and chase for the rainbows that we think we need to light up our lives.... very often forgetting that we need to be the lights.
Chinese New Year 2015. It's a quiet New Year this time around. Economy is on the downslide. There seems to be less of this feeling of festivities outside. Times don't look so rosy. Changes are afoot. But I think, all those are actually quite secondary. Good times come and they go too. Bad times too. What matters in the end... the relationships that we are able to forge. I think that probably sums up the whole point of living....