16 February 2011, by Jaime Teo
I haven’t been excited about Chinese New Year for a long time.
In my long time ago teenage days, it felt like a chore to have to dress up, remember all the correct terms for the entire (extended) family, and names of the recent (or not so recent) additions (my memory scores a -1 on a scale of 1-10). What I dreaded then, was making inane polite conversation with everybody…. Thank God for red packets and new year goodies that made it all more bearable.
As I grew older, I looked forward to Chinese New year for the fun activities of the IR sort. *wink wink* Plus when you’re seated and engaged in some sort of activity (of which there are many variations over new year), one is not expected to conduct any conversations beyond “Hello! Gong xi gong xi!”
Last year marked the year of change for me. For one, I was obviously pregnant and so stayed away from the erm… ‘activity table’. Not because I was afraid that my daughter was going to become a gambling addict (some think what you do during pregnancy will determine what your child will like), but because that table usually had people smoking. So I stayed away.
That meant having to make conversation with relatives who asked how the pregnancy was coming along and offering advice and encouragement. I found that I enjoyed those conversations and appreciated the advice — it wasn’t tedious or difficult or boring like what I had thought for so many years. I think sometimes our feelings about certain things change because we have grown but we don’t realise it until we give it a chance…
Then this year, I actually felt excited about Chinese New Year! It stemmed from wanting to start a tradition of sort for Renee, so that she will know how Chinese New Years are like. I wanted her to know her roots and to get to know who family is, however extended.
Oh, wait a minute – that sounds familiar. Maybe it’s exactly what my family did for me just that I didn’t quite see it that way. Being a parent is quite revelatory — you see a lot of things in a new light and you think “NOW I get it” a lot more than you want to. Some days, I think “What? Renee is going to have to be past thirty years old before she will understand or appreciate what I am doing?” Yeah — Karma can be quite a scary thing.
So back to Chinese New Year this year – we bought her too many red/pink outfits to go visiting in. I totally broke my regular “let’s not buy her too many clothes cos she will outgrow them in a flash” rule cos it is so much fun playing dressups!
On the first day of New Year — she visited all the mothers and grandmothers in this:
On the second day of New Year, more visiting!
Then on the third day……
<to be continued>