Happy CNY!

Happy Lunar New Year to all who are celebrating! (Or Happy Chinese New Year, as they say over here in Malaysia).

It’s already February, and not only that, we have just whizzed past the 1 week of school holidays and it’s already over. Boohoo. 😦

To be honest, CNY isn’t quite as cheery an occasion as it used to be for me when I was younger, and mostly it’s because it is often a stark reminder of all the complex histories and offences and heartache surrounding the relationships between various family members.

What helps though is having a young soul in the family like our little Jamie here. He was all excited about the fireworks and lion dances and cheerfully giving loud “Happy New Year!” greetings to relatives as we visited their houses.

My Mum actually enlisted his help to hand out cookies when we were at their place and an uncle and his family came over to visit. Jamie took out every single snack jar and managed to successfully get every one of them to take a piece from each jar. I’ve never seen them eat so much during a CNY visitation before (at least from what I remember of past years). Haha. I guess it does make a difference when a child is around.

It’s wonderfully refreshing to see Jamie so enthusiastic about all these CNY traditions. In fact, he got really sad one time when we had to cancel a trip to a cousin’s place because they forgot about our appointment and were out at that time. So kesian.

I guess sometimes as adults, we need these reminders to find joy in the small things. I hope when Jamie gets older and more jaded about life that at least one of us in the family will still cling on to the positive perspective of things. I will certainly miss these simpler days where he is so young and easily pleased.

Tomorrow there will be a Chinese New Year party at Jamie’s school. From what the principal tells me, it sounds like it’s going to be a whole load of fun for the entire student population (which isn’t that big, since this is preschool after all heh). I’m kind of excited for what’s in store for him, and we are preparing a simple dish for him and his schoolmates to enjoy.

Just as he is levelling up in life, so are we. It’s still a fairly new thing for me to be signing as a parent for his Message Book from school, and talking to teachers etc as an authoritative figure in his life. Makes me feel so grown up. Haha. I am in charge! (Whether I handle the responsibility well enough is another matter, of course).

Speaking of parenting and family matters, there’s actually another fairly current story to tell about that. But perhaps I shall leave that for another post. Perhaps tomorrow?

Countdown to Chinese New Year

Happy Chinese New Year!

Being Malaysian Chinese carries along with it so many things that make up who I am. As much of a banana* that I am, so many aspects of the Chinese culture have seeped into my life. For instance, the kind of food we eat, the way we relate to our elders, etc.

Add to that the labels and expectations that are attached to being Malaysian AND Chinese, and then there is a whole added layer to what makes up my personality.

Anyway, the predominant thought over here at this moment is that I am not 100% proud of the heritage that we inherit by being Chinese (although only in part by now, since my ancestors have been on Malaysian soil for a good few generations by now), but this is who I am and I guess there must have been a reason for God to have fashioned this background that I have been born into.

This little video here, in some ways, says a lot. Never mind that it’s not about Malaysian Chinese in particular, it still reflects a lot on how the Chinese culture and mentality affects those of us who are born into this ethnicity. Notably, it speaks a lot about Chinese parenting in general: That emotionally distant, tough kind of love, the emphasis on studying hard, that inclination towards mathematics and numbers and money, that dedication to work, and sense of duty towards providing for the family.

Chinese New Year is mostly a family centred celebration. So all these things come up. All these family traditions, histories, imperfections… It is, to me, happiness tainted with a large dose of reality. The realisation that there will always be some family member that is alienated. Another who is indifferent. Yet another who tries too hard to unite everyone. All these things.

The angpaus. The hierarchy of family positions and titles. That emphasis on money. Those seemingly eternal debts: be they financial, emotional or all sorts of other in-between stuff. The polite small talk to mask the years of stories, sometimes buried out of convenience.

Hope I haven’t dampened the cheeriness of your Chinese New Year. These are just my musings. I love my parents. I like certain aspects of my Chinese heritage.I just hope to break the mould and be that bit different somehow.

Not to be that stingy, uncaring, crude person that the world might expect of me because I am inevitably Chinese. (Let’s leave the Malaysian bit for another post, another story – that too has a long list of things to be said about which is not worth delving into right now).

What’s your CNY reunion like this year? Mine’s alright, but a part of me always feels it could still be way better.

* A local slang which is used to describe a person who is Chinese but yet cannot speak/write in any of the Chinese dialects proficiently.