I have scheduled this post so that when you are reading this, I and my little family are on the road driving towards Singapore.
Chinese New Year is a huge festival where my parents will never forgive me (okay, I’m exaggerating but they will definitely not be happy) if I don’t make my way back home no matter which part of the world I am in.
Even when I was working in Shanghai (6 hours flight away from Singapore), I brave the crowd and the horrid air ticket price (I could have a round trip ticket to Europe and back) to go back to celebrate this special occasion with my family.
Chinese New Year to Chinese is like Christmas to Caucasians.
We flocked home, overcrowd the airports, train stations and roads (shoulder to shoulder), paid ridiculously for anyone who can take us home, forked out (again, ridiculously high prices) for New Year goodies – all for the sake of family gathering.
To see cousins, aunts, uncles and distant relatives that we don’t care to visit except once a year during Chinese New Year where we “pretend” to care about his latest car or her latest business venture and intrude personal space by asking sensitive questions about their relationship and pregnancy status. Then we exchange gossips and dishes out scandals on other family members. Sounds negative and nasty.
So why do we do it?
It is the same for all families all around the world. It’s a time to gather.
A time to rejoice in each other’s company.
A time to cramp things (big or small events) of the last 365 days into that few hours as we sit around the living room, feasting upon unhealthy (so sinful but so good!) New Year goodies in our new clothes in blind colours like chilli red and sunshine yellow.
A time to crackle at lame jokes and tease mercilessly at the younger generations.
A time to curse like a sailor while you gamble your red packet money away.
But this is also the time three (maybe four) generations are eating under the same roof.
The grandparents (or great grandparents) sitting around joining the conversation.
The aunts helping out in the kitchen, serving dishes after dishes (seriously the food just keep coming).
The uncles trying to join in the conversation while managing the excited kids.
The cousins showing off their skills at Playstation or Xbox.
The little nieces and nephews running around gleefully while stuffing their faces with chocolate and sweets that the adults left unattended.
The rest of us cooed and awwed at the latest addition in the big family.
It is crazy. It is noisy. It is messy.
But it is a beautiful mess to me.
Have a wonderful Chinese New Year and may you have an abundance of wealth, fortune and joy in 2020!