As of today, the Chinese New Year celebrations have come to an end – for me, at least – with a house-to-house visitation with the church carecell group.
(the feasting, on the other hand, goes on for the rest of the year)
If you’re already familiar with chinese customs during the new year, go and find something to watch on YouTube, or something; otherwise, you’d best be writing down notes.
The celebrations this year began, as it did every other year, with the reunion dinner on New Year’s Eve on my father’s side of the family. On Wednesday evening, my mom announced that we will be leaving the house at 5P.M. to make it for the dinner, which was scheduled at 6.
It was a good plan – and again, like all good plans do, it never got off the ground. Because after I left the office right after work ended at 5P.M., endured the distance to my aunt’s place, and arrived at 6P.M., I was pretty much the only one there, apart from my aunt and a cousin (whom I suspected to have been there the whole day anyway).
There was food after, some drinks, and a game of scrabble. All in all, a good time of being around members of the extended family without actually having to interact with them.
The first day of the new year brought me the same conundrum it does every year:
What the hell am I supposed to say for the new year greetings?
I managed to mutter, with some degree of eloquence, the usual lines: prosperity, good health, an increase of all that is good. It seemed to pass my parents’ standards. I suppose money, health, and all things good are things that one can never really get sick of having.
After a brief lunch, which mostly consisted of the night before’s leftovers, a quick packing ensued, and off to Bekok we went. Midway through, as I was asleep in the back seat, the car’s air-conditioning gave up on us, and we were forced to travel the rest of the distance with our windows down.
Still, reach Bekok we did, and then began the second part of the celebrations: on my mother’s side of the family this time. There was even less talking this time, and a lot more of me staring into my phone, minding my own business.
Thankfully, 23 years have taught me to be better prepared for such situations, and it was this foresight that made me bring along the final novel in The Dark Tower series, which kept me entertained and free from social obligations until Saturday evening, when I finished the book.
I briefly considered doubling back and reading the book once more with clarity, but eventually decided against this. Thankfully, the rest of the evening and the morning of the next day passed without much rebelling in my mind.
You know the rest of what happened on Sunday, I suppose.
In between and all around, of course, was the most important part of Chinese New Year: receiving red packets with money inside, with an emphasis on “money inside”, the more the better.
(what did you expect me to say – family gatherings? We get that every few months. Free money only comes once a year. You see that I have my priorities in order)
So here I am, at the end of this flurry of activities, not quite ready to head back to work in the morning, but knowing that this is pretty much all there is until the next year.
On the bright side: money.