|Breakfast with her bear
The day before CNY, the excitement picks up as the younger kids dress up for celebrations in school. By 11am, all the kids are home and there’s a buzz around the house. With kids spanning such a wide age range, busy with their own schedules, I can see the wisdom in the reunion dinner tradition and schools and workplaces giving everyone half a day off.
|Steamed bamboo clams with garlic
The hubs and our helper start cooking early in the morning and relatives come over for prayers followed by lunch. After which, the older kids head over to my parents’ place to help prepare our steamboat reunion dinner. We have an early dinner with my family and return home by 8pm for Round 2 with the hubs’ side of the family.
This year we had a lavish reunion dinner complete with freshly shucked oysters. Stomachs full, it was time for the rather riotous “lo-hei” ritual.
|Annual family photo
It’s a long day for the kids as they woke up at 5.30am for school, and we call it a night just past midnight.
|Look at those cheeks!
The 1st day of CNY is spent at my parents’ place as that is where my dad’s clan will descend. He is the youngest in a family of 11 kids, so it’s twice as many relatives on my side of the family. Sadly, because we only meet once a year, my kids are not close to their cousins. We get home and the hubs starts cooking again for friends and relatives who come visiting.
On the 2nd day of CNY, we go over to my parents’ place for lunch as relatives from my mum’s side and family friends will gather, as they have been doing from as long as I can remember.
|Bak kut teh
By Day 4, the hubs was exhausted from 4 days of cooking. We had friends visiting from overseas, and as the kids were back in school, we accompanied them on the drive up to Meleka. It was a nice 2-day break and we took things really slow.
We like this aunty’s bak kut teh, and it’s quite amusing how everyone at the coffeeshop sat and waited patiently as this aunty cheerfully prepares the claypots for one table at a time.
Felt like we were transported back in time as we strolled the streets and spent the whole day eating, without background complaints of “Where are we going? Why are we eating again?”
It’s been a good CNY thus far with no tempers raised nor cranky meltdowns, only hoarse voices from too much bak kua and pineapple tarts.
I was asking one of my kids what she liked most about Chinese New Year. Is it the ang pows? “No”. The food? “No.”
“I like that there’s a lot of people around. And relatives. And your friends.”
There’s grounding in family and traditions. I hope that’s something we will pass on from generation to generation.