Saturday, January 14, 2006

Almost Crushed, Miffed, Still Hopeful

While I was washing the dishes, mom suddenly blurted, "This Chinese New Year's eve, we'll be having our own reunion dinner. Because Grandma's not celebrating her birthday this year." (in chinese)

HUH?!? I was crushed. Almost. "How come??"

To cut the long story short, my grandparents must be taking yet another step towards ultra-legalism in not partaking of traditions & customs deemed as non-christian - that's right, no birthday, no CNY, no family reunion.

My mom, being only the messenger, couldn't answer my insistent queries. I immediately sought my dad out, who seemed nonchalant about it. "Yup, this year not celebrating."

Year after year, our entire extended family (ah kong had 10 children, so go figure) comes together on CNY's eve for a reunion lunch a la steamboat, with red wine (& accompanying teasing about folks who turn red easily) being a recent welcomed addition. I even got a colleague to get me a Malbec on his recent trip and I've been eager to let everyone try it.

Needless to say, CNY eve family reunion's a deeply meaningful Chinese tradition which upholds love & unity in the family. In our case, it manifests itself in the annual family portrait, with smiling faces immortalised - Uncle Patrick always has to do the same mad dash before the timer goes off while his 3 daughters squeal in shrilly excitement.

Seeing my little cousins get bigger year after year is quite a joy for most of us. Then there's the grapevine-updating about who's doing what. The older men comparing waistlines & diets, with wives following up with mock admonishing. The occasional kid falling accidentally, silently scrunching his/her face before the awful cry for attention...

Suggested to dad tt as an alternative, we ask eldest uncle to open up his house. Dad agreed. But it just won't be the same without my grandparents and the usual birthday cake & song routine.

Miffed, I am. But still hopeful.

Else, Bintan beckons. Or KL, Phuket... whatever.


Anonymous said...

"taking yet another step towards ultra-legalism in not partaking of traditions & customs deemed as non-christian - that's right, no birthday, no CNY, no family reunion"

I can understand that christians will not take part in non-christian activities and especially if the activities is based on non-christian beliefs.

Traditional celebrations should not be given up just because it is not christian-like. You can simply forgo the religious and non-christian parts and concentrate on the other beneficial portions.

Celebrating birthday is non-christian like? Then why celebrate the birth of Christ on Xmas? So celebrating the birthday of Christ is an exception?

No family reunions? Doesn't Christianity promotes family values, cohesion etc? By saying no to family reunions, does that mean the extended family will not come together and interact? Or is this aimed at the Mid-Autumn Festival? You can always skips the religious part and enjoy time being spent with the extended family. The rest of the family can do their religious rites while the Christians can just be quiet observers.

Anonymous said...

perhaps this particular article will bring out my comments better!

Ed said...

Agreed and thank you for the follow-up :) I also read with interest a recent article in the Straits Times about the Islamic new year. After all, modern Christianity & Islam share the same roots.