We recently asked people on our Focus on the Family Facebook page to share their favorite Chinese New Year family tradition. Apart from one not-so-polite remark, the rest shared of food, fun and family time.
A colleague remarked that CNY for us is akin to Thanksgiving or Christmas in the States. One common thing all these holidays share is not so much the festivity but the recognition of the importance of family.
Well, I had a number of firsts this Chinese New Year:
1. We had an unintended Chinese New Year “movie reunion”.
A friend’s friend had block-booked a movie screening of Courageous after having watched and been moved by the movie. I thought I’d helped promote the movie by getting my immediate family some tickets. At the end of the day, I had taken a total of 17 tickets for our parents, siblings and their spouses. It was the first time my husband’s mother was meeting my sister’s husband of slightly over a year. My mother hadn’t seen my step-sister-in-law since her firstborn turned 2; she’s now expecting her 4th child. My father hadn’t been to the cinema to watch a show for possibly more than 30 years. It was an unlikely reunion.
2. We had the largest Chinese New Year reunion dinner since we got married.
Reunion dinners usually take place at my husband’s grandmother’s house – also his childhood home and where we spent the first year of our married life. For the first time, we were joined by his elder sister and her family, who didn’t have a reunion dinner with her husband’s family; my father-in-law and his remarried family who happened to be in town for the New Year; as well as an aunt-in-law who lives in New Zealand and typically doesn’t visit over CNY.
3. We took a family trip on the first 2 days of Chinese New Year.
We’d never been away for Chinese New Year. “Chu Yi” (first day of Chinese New Year) is typically spent having lunch at my grandmother-in-law’s place – the pit stop for all the aunts/uncles/cousins on my husband’s side, followed by a string of visitations on my own relatives. This year my sister-in-law invited us to join her family on a short getaway to Bintan. It was an opportunity for my son to spend some time playing with his closest boy cousin, without the usual rush to finish up dinner and get home in time for bed and school the following day.
Apart from too much sun and each of us fighting off something or other that we appeared to be coming down with, it was a good time of food, fun and family time. My sister-in-law whipped up her trademark pesto pasta in the villa’s kitchenette. My son had his first attempt at reverse bungy (which he’s likely not to repeat – but for which we’re proud that he was brave enough to try!) and walking on water in the zorb ball. My husband and I caught The Three Idiots on TV – our first Hindi film.
Most significantly, we spent time talking and catching up in an unhurried manner – including a discussion over breakfast on our values and beliefs.
Perhaps all of this could become a yearly affair…