Chinese. New. Year.
In the past, whenever I heard of these 3 words, what comes to mind would have been the massive packing (we usually return back to hometown for about a week), the journey to Malacca with my family in the car, the pit stops at the R&R where my daddy would buy fruits for us to 'cool' ourselves in the hot Chinese New Year weather, decorating my gramma's house with angpow packets and others artsy fish deco that my mum would make, wearing new clothes, bakua and pineapple tarts, multiple family dinners with the extended family, receiving angpows, playing cards with the gramma, and all the annual CNY fun stuff.
Although Chinese New Year seemed to be the same every year, the difference is that we grow older by the year, and as we grow, our perception and feelings towards CNY changes.
When I was much younger, CNY only meant 1) ANGPOWS!!!, 2) Eating all the wrong foods.
And then it meant 1) Angpows, 2) Eating selected wrong foods, 3) Looking forward to Boon paying a visit to my gramma and family in Malacca on the 3rd day of CNY.
That was the drill for the past 3-4 years. But this year, everything is going to change. EVERYTHING.
I would no longer travel back to Malacca together with my family. I now have a new family (Boon and myself hahaha sounds so cute right), and this family would travel to visit our extended families (my family and Boon's family and extended families) throughout the CNY season together. Speaking of travelling, we have LOTS of travelling to do starting this year. *phew*
While I'm excited to be able to travel EVERYWHERE with my husby, and do everything as a couple including giving angpows hahaha, I still feel sentimental about leaving my old CNY practices behind, and stepping into new ones starting this year.
I don't know whether it is because I've grown as an individual, or it is because I'm now married, my perception about CNY has changed tremendously. This time around, I'm no longer the kid who looks forward to receiving angpows and eating all the foods that I could, instead, the meaning of CNY has totally become so different.
It is now about reuniting with the loved ones, spending time together,
and making everybody happy in this festive season.
Since the Chinese New Year is approaching, I figured it'd be good to share some of the stuff that I feel about personally.
Just 2 days ago, Boon and I were doing our FIRST EVER CNY shopping at the new Giant in USJ 1 (see...now we go to places where all the uncles aunties shop. hahahaha). We bought all the snacks, cookies, and food stuff we need to bring along when we go for visitations, for our guests, and stuff like that, and while we were about to leave the place, we saw an elderly granny who could possibly be in her late 70's carrying 2 big packets of milo refills, an umbrella and some other stuff that she bought with one hand, while holding onto the escalator rail stabilizing herself with another.
I saw that and signalled to Boon if we should lend a hand to her. We stood there for a good 5 secs to think if it would be a good idea. For all we know, out of a good intention, people might mistake us as being abductors, and the granny's family members could be upset with us. But we went ahead after that good 5 secs and offered help to carry her stuff because it simply looked too heavy for a granny like her. To our surprise, instead of looking afraid and doubtful, she looked up, smiled from her heart and kept asking slowly in her very cute, high-pitched granny voice in Mandarin, "You both are helping me? Really? Wah so good you both are willing to help me...".
She looked like a typical cute granny with a head full of white, permed hair who had trouble walking. When we offered to help carry her stuff to her car (we actually meant her children's car), to our surprise, there was NO car. She walked all the way from her house at USJ 1 to Giant, which took her a good 30 mins of slow walk. Alone. At 9.30pm. In USJ, one of the prime crime areas. Apparently she does this almost daily, walking alone to Mydin and Giant, and sometimes taking a cab to Carrefour alone.
While waiting for Boon to get the car, we stood at the entrance and chatted for a bit. She was so old that I had trouble understanding her speech...it was so muffled :') When I asked if she was staying with her children, she opened up to me and told me that she was, and that they had 3 cars at home, but no one would drive her around.
That really broke my heart. I told myself that whatever happens, I would never let this happen to my parents.
We brought her back home safe and sound, where her husband who was also elderly and skinny opened the doors and had a huge silly grin on his face the moment he saw that his wife was safely home. The granny quickly explained to her husband that Boon and I offered to fetch her home in Hokkien, and he kept saying thanks (very super muffled hahaha), and even invited us into the house for some tea (which we didn't la). Afterwhich, they waved goodbye to us with all smiles, and that was it.
That encounter made me realize so many things. I immediately gave my gramma a call, chatted with her, and told her when I'll be back for CNY. We become so caught up with own lives that we so easily forget our folks who are doing the same old stuff at home- wake up, eat, watch tv, nap, all while enduring the pain of their illnesses.
Chinese New Year is the time that these folks of ours look forward to the most, because that is when all of their kids and grandkids would be back home to see them, eat together with them, and be with them even for just a few days.
I've always loved CNY advertisements like these with strong messages behind to remind us the true meaning of Chinese New Year. Watch and share if you haven't already. No matter how simple these ads could be, they never failed to press my emotional button and bring tears to my eyes. Just imagine if that same thing happens to you when you age.
This CNY, let's show love to our loved ones by spending some.
#1: Spend some money.
I've always been a strong believer that
"You can give without loving, but you cannot love without giving".
For those of us who are eligible to give angpows *wallet cries*, let's give our best to our folks and loved ones.
As for those who are still studying, perhaps you could buy some health stuff like chicken essence for your folks this CNY. It doesn't have to be huge hampers or expensive things. A little gesture goes a long way. Though they may nag or even lecture you for "wasting" money, you know that deep in their hearts, they're touched and actually feel loved by your littlest gestures, and they will remember that you care.
#2: Spend some time.
I admit that I'm guilty of that in the past. Whenever we were done with our family meals, I would immediately leave the dining table to check my phone, FB, Twitter, and continue with my games on the laptop (it used to be Bejeweled at one point).
You can learn from my mistakes and not do the same. Spend a longer time at the dining table, talk and fellowship for as long as you can. Help out with the dishes after meals. Make a point to get to know your distant relatives a little more. Listen to your folks' stories and rants (even if you have heard them a million times before).
Afterall, we won't be spending forever with them, only those few days during the CNY season. Make the best out of all the time you have with them, and for a few days, just put your families FIRST above all else.
Don't get me wrong, I'm not trying to sound like some experienced lecturer teaching you how to be a good kid. But I am actually being reminded of all these myself as I speak/type/write/youknowwhatimean.
This CNY indeed, will be different for me, whether I like it or not.
But I want to make it special. And I want to make a point.