It’s a little late but, Happy Chinese New Year everyone!
I promised myself a 10pm bedtime tonight but I figured the longer I drag this post the more things I’d forget. Chinese New Year is always a time for me to remember my roots and spend time with my maternal relatives and family. I spent most of the time answering questions whilst eating bak kwa, pineapple tarts and love letters (one stick in one finger with 4 fingers of love letters, thank you very much lol) and all other snacks and goodies.
The rest of the time, I spent listening to stories and conversations between my mother and her siblings. It kind of made me wonder whether I’d ever sound like that 50 years down the road with my own siblings. The cutest thing that happened was my eldest aunt who decided to take out a BINGO set during dinner and play it as a gambling game. Eventually as the night died down at reunion dinner, I tried to stay awake to follow the custom of living out for my mom’s longevity.
“You catholic what! Why must you believe this sort of thing?”
Why? Because I am chinese. This is a chinese custom of tradition.
Come to think of it, the act itself is not that we truly believe that staying up late will definitely increase the longevity of our parents. But it is because we as chinese know of such a custom, and we know how much our parents appreciate this custom. As such, we do it out of showing our respect and love to our parents. My mom actually popped her head in my doorway at 1+ am after cleaning up and went, “wah. Still awake ah? Staying up for my longevity is it? Don’t worry lah I’ll survive” and chuckled as she closed the door. That’s right, we chinese people are incapable saying “I love you” to our parents but we show it in getting A’s for our examinations (clearly I haven’t shown my mom I love her much ha-ha-ha).
But in retrospect that was how my mother showed me she appreciated me following my chinese customs and traditions. She is weird, and I am no better than a chip off the old block of her.
I was also reminded of my lovely Aunt Ros who is my mom’s younger sister. I was 14 and had just entered secondary school and my mother was busy with moving house and settling down that Aunt Ros took me to buy my school uniforms and books.
My uncle Huat who is my mom’s younger brother also then offered to send me to school in the early mornings as he said it was on the way to work. He dropped me off quite often in secondary 1 and 2 and then stopped when I was older and more settled into school. It wasn’t until much later that I found out he only started work at 9am….
When I was 15 they had guitar lessons for class and there was a special rate for guitars. I really wanted a new one for the classes instead of using the lousy ones that the class had. Aunt Ros upon hearing that, gave me over $100 to let me buy that guitar. I was over the moon but 15 year old me didn’t appreciate it as much as how 25 year old me does now, learning the importance of working hard for your money.
One thing about my mom’s side that strangely resonates so well with me are their never ending acts of kindness for family. This Chinese New Year, I am reminded that despite growing wings and learning how to fly better as an adult now (metaphorically, of course).
May we stay humble in humility, never forget our roots of who were the ones who were there to guide us and give us confidence to grow in them and ultimately, be the person we thankfully are today.