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Friday, February 7, 2014

A Different Chinese New Year

Hey guys! Gong Xi Fa Cai!!!

Sorry for the lack of updates for the past week! Have been so busy with the Chinese New Year season. It used to be that CNY was about CNY shopping, packing my clothes, going back to my grandparents' in Malacca, and prepare to sit around, snack and collect angpows. But now that I'm married, CNY has taken a 180 degree turn. Yes, it's that major.

This would be the second year that I no longer follow my family back to Malacca few days before CNY. I'll be here spring cleaning my own house (though there's nothing to spring clean really cos the house is still so new. and not to mention small hahah), preparing CNY cookies and drinks for our guests (if any hahaha), preparing angpows without expecting any in return (though some kind souls still give us angpows), andddddd, CNY clothes shopping have become the last thing on my mind. Yea how can it be right? But it's true. I didn't do ANY CNY shopping this year. Not even a single item. Yea, shocking.

What I wore on the first day of CNY were new though. Well, mostly.

My top was from Chiq Fliq, origami skirts an upcoming piece at Chiq Fliq and my bag? Bought it over a year ago and it was my first time actually using it. So it's considered new, I guess? Shoes were...old that's why it's not in the picture hahaha! Now you know.

Why I didn't do any CNY shopping was not because I don't like shopping anymore. No way that could happen. It's not that I don't take CNY seriously anymore. I still do! I still love the festive feeling of CNY, a season of reuniting with family members across states and countries. It's a wonderful time of the year.

However, this year, I just didn't anticipate CNY as I used to. And I clearly know why. It's because CNY is different this year...different without my grandma :(

My beloved grandma passed away on 14th of May last year, therefore my family ain't really celebrating CNY this year. It's a Chinese tradition to withhold celebrations for a year since the passing of a family member.

It's not really because we're not really celebrating CNY loudly and proudly that made me lose anticipation for the festival though. It's just grandma herself that made all the difference.

My CNY for the past 23 years had always been about going back to Ah-ma's house. My family would be back few days before CNY, help my grandparents to do massive spring cleaning, hang up CNY decorations, make fishes and lanterns out of angpow packets to hang on my grandma's legit spring flower branches (if that's what it's called). Then on CNY eve, my parents would cook up a storm in the kitchen and prepare out-of-this-world dishes and steamboat for CNY lunch. Afterwhich, it's snacking and watching CNY TV shows with my grandpa, while my grandma walks up and down, in and out of the house preparing her altar for prayers and offerings.

CNY eves were the BEST, because we were given an excuse to snack, watch TV all night and stay up til the wee hours to "accompany grandma", because Ah-ma believed that we ought to stay up to welcome the God of prosperity into the house on the first day of CNY. Best time to rebel, baybeh!

First day of CNY were always exciting, because it's time to parade our new clothes to the world! Actually, only to the very few distant relatives who visit my grandparents every year without fail la. Hahaha anyway, it was still a great feeling. It was the FIRST day of CNY! After putting on our new clothes, we would collect angpows from our grandparents and parents, and whichever guests that start strolling into the house. Chinese New Years were times of harvest, both physically and financially, if you know what I mean. *insert smirk face*

Since last year, CNY have been different because I'm now married. I return to my in-law's for CNY reunion dinner instead of the CNY reunion lunch I used to know. First day of CNY is now about going around visiting relatives with my in-laws and chilling at coffee bars thereafter instead of sitting at home waiting for guests to pop by. Now it's going around with a handbag full of angpows, rather than an empty handbag waiting to be filled with red packets. I would only return to Malacca on the second or third day of CNY to be with my family for a day or two, and then return back home. It is now just different. Not better nor worse, just...different.

But this year, it is just so different. Last year, We FaceTimed with my family and grandma on CNY eve to wish them a Happy CNY. 

This year, we didn't. 

When we went back to my Ah-ma's place, everything looked just the same, but she wasn't there anymore. And that made all the difference. She never used to be one who spoke a lot or made her presence known. She's always the one quietly sitting on her chair, listening to everyone talking and she'll just smile and laugh to herself. You'd think it wouldn't make a big difference now that she's not around anymore, but it did. Her absence spoke so loudly.

After thinking about how I felt, I realised this.

Ah-ma had been my definition of Chinese New Year. She IS my Chinese New Year.

Without her from this year on, there'll always be this weird, empty feeling on Chinese New Year. I really miss her.

Sorry for posting such an emo post on Chinese New Year. Don't mean to bring anybody down with me. Just wanted to remember her on this very festival that she made meaningful for me all these 24 years.

Love you, Ah-ma! 
Thank you for letting me experience true CNY with you.


love, Careen

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