One week more and it’s going to be CNY again. Like all my previous posts on CNYs, it will usually give me a excited feeling on the approaching festive season. I have read somewhere that this feeling would usually be at the highest level on the eve (or probably a week before) of the festival. And once it has started, everything would die down so fast that you sort of hope that it had never approached.
I don’t know why, but CNY has always given me such a blissful feeling. Perhaps it was the laughter we had always shared on the dinner table when all of us are having our reunion dinner. Although food was not exceptionally excellent, but the wholesomeness of a family tradition that was kept throughout the years although my granma had passed away was simply overwhelming. And it was not only the four of us in the family. We have always made it a point to dine with my aunts, uncles and cousins as well, so there are altogether 10 of us.
And when my granma was still alive, she would also invite her brother and his family to come and dine with us. And so, we will lay out our food in a huge table in the living area to accomodate everyone. She would even bring the whole pot of rice out from the kitchen so that we can get more rice later. As usual, the TV stations would have very nice shows on and these shows would usually be some HK celebrities concert (aired at 6.00pm, just right during dinner time). So, with some artiste belting our CNY songs, we would be happily tucking into our fish, prawns, chicken, mushrooms, and all the auspicious must have dishes on the reunion table.
And also the things we do on the 1st day of CNY. My gran would make us all wake up very early *gasp* to pray. Offers were made to our ancestors at and after a round of incense burning, we all had to sit down and eat. Well, eating was fine, but to us kids who just woke up bleary eyed, forcing rice down our throats was difficult. Even worse was that we had to have second helpings, to signify abundance of food for the rest of the year. Sulking was out of the question, since nothing bad is tolerated on the first day of the year, so, we had to first take only a spoon of rice on the first helping and then ‘pretend’ to take a second helping. And since dad is a vegetarian on that day, she would also cook some special vegetarian dishes for him.
From as long as I know, we have been visiting the same relatives on the first day of CNY. First house we would stop by will be my gran’s brother’s (the one who came to dine with us). And for as long as I remember, they would serve us Yeo’s Soya Bean drink (thanks to my brother who reminded everyone) We (including my aunts, uncles, cousins) would all it there and chat about everything under the sun. As for me, I would just listen and eat.
And then it we would be off to another house, which is my granpa’s brother’s family. (Yes, I know, relations here can be confusing but my granma had insisted we do this) Although both brother’s had long passed away (and none of us young poeple alive have even seen them before) we still kept in touch. It was essential (like what my gran had said) that we keep in touch with those with the same family name. And while my mom and aunts gossiped with the others, I would do what I do best — continue eating while listening to juicy stories.
After all these visits, we will then return home for yet another sumptous vegetarian meal with the family. And again, there should be refills and second helpings. And this time is even worse than in the morning or the previous night because of all the cookies and crackers I stuffed myself with during the visits. And then, the best time will come again where we will just all sit ourselves in front of the TV to watch nice shows.
Second days of CNY are usually reserved by the traditional Chinese to visit their wife’s family. Although we do not do it now (since the passing of my maternal granma last year) we kids used to love it. We would wake up very early in the morning and dad will drive us all north towards Perak. My maternal granma lived in Tg Malim and besides her, my mom’s sister and brother also lived there. My mom has 10 siblings, so, when everyone is at gran’s place, it can be a extremely overwhelming occasion. The only thing I look forward to at this time was surprisingly not getting to know what’s happening with everyone, but the food and ang pows from my relatives. I do not know why but I can’t seem to be able to connect or talk to my cousins from my mom’s side. Maybe it was some invisible gap. The stuff they talk about school was so much different from the stuff I experienced in school. Anyway, since the food is there, I might as well just continue eating.
The whole place would usually be filled with kids running around, women talking loudly over the dinner table, more kids crowding the cookies table and men, of course, at the few mahjong tables clickety clacking away. It is a real shame now that none of these are happening anymore. Everyone has grown up (my cousins), got married and had family functions to attend on their own. So, even if we go back now, the atmosphere were not as festive as it used to be. (sad…) I wonder if my maternal granma is still here, everyone might still gather around.
Once the 3rd day approaches, there was nothing much to do already, but to laze around and wait for others to come and visit. It is a day where we don’t really fancy cos it its no longer a public holiday and if it’s not a weekend it will be back to school 😦 — Sitting around at home is worse, cos the anticipation of getting back into our daily chores is real bad, that is why I mentioned that the days before the festival were more exciting. And the feeling always fizzles off after the CNY has ended, just like what I am feeling now.
Okay, I think I should stop this and get myself back in the mood..