How I learnt to love CNY even more as an adult

By Valerie Tan, 09 February 2018 1012

As a child, Chinese New Year was akin to a food marathon for me. From pineapple tarts to peanut sugee cookies, it was a quest to makan all those goodies at house visits. And of course, collect all the red packets.

I remember the usual weekend of frenzied shopping with Mom for festive food, new clothes, new bedsheets and new underwear. Then, there was the time when all of us cleaned and decorated the house together, in preparation for the Lunar celebration to welcome spring. Chinese New Year has been an integral part of Singaporean heritage and culture - a tradition filled with lots of food, fun and folk beliefs. Of which, the traditional reunion dinner on Chinese New Year's Eve is de rigueur as extended relatives gather together for the most significant meal of the year. Reunion dinners in the close-knit Tan clan were scrumptious steamboat parties or home-cooked feasts which featured our festive favourites such as Chinese spinach with sliced abalone, steamed whole fish and pan-fried sweet rice cake (nian gao). I remember how I would prance around in my little cheongsam to Chinese tunes and gobble up each morsel of food with glee. Oh, what fond memories!

Fast forward years later, I left Singapore to further education and lived abroad in London for awhile. I missed each Chinese New Year reunion at home and all the festive hustle-bustle. It was never the same in central London, albeit the city's Chinatown celebrations and numerous makeshift steamboat plus lo hei sessions with friends. Because truth be told, no festive occasion was complete without the love and warmth of your loved ones.

Nonetheless, without fail, my family would mail me a precious parcel of festive goodies to banish the blues. It sure made me smile and gave me the license to stuff myself silly, even on a different continent! So with a treasured slice of bakkwa in hand, we survived through family chats on social media platforms and regular Skype video calls. But, it was tough for my parents to see a regular empty seat at the table at each reunion meal and this caused them to have an inescapable sense of longing. We were miles apart but close in heart. 

Now, Chinese New Year is just another time for festivities and a mere holiday for everyone. Beyond a doubt, the significance and spirit of the season has waned over the years but after a brief stint away from home, I have realised that Chinese New Year is indeed a special moment to appreciate our loved ones and remind ourselves of the importance of family. It's also an exclusive time to keep traditions alive amid the ever-changing society in which we live in. I'm extra thankful to be back for good, to be able to celebrate the festivities with everyone and to get caught up in the tangle of familial ties again.

As our families mature, love and care for your tribe, especially your aging parents who have always stood by you. Be nice, spend each Chinese New Year with them and be sure to make time for them on a regular basis because quality time with family should not be compromised or restricted to a particular holiday season. Our parents have made countless sacrifices for us and nurtured us through childhood, so now that we’re older, it is our turn to honor them and provide the best for them. As David Ogden Stiers described, "family means no one gets left behind or forgotten".   
Happy Chinese New Year everyone.
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Important Notes:
This article is meant purely for informational purposes and should not be relied upon as financial advice. The precise terms, conditions and exclusions of any Income products mentioned are specified in their respective policy contracts. For customised advice to suit your specific needs, consult an Income insurance advisor.