Ah, Chinese new year is upon us once again. The year of the wood elemental goat promises roughly the same thing every other animal in the Chinese zodiac does. Long life, good luck, warning of financial woes in today’s economy, etc.
It’s sad to say that my adult memories of this special occasion consists nothing more than perfunctory and shallow Facebook well-wishes between family, friends, and friends of family and friends. I don’t want to see photos of you 捞起魚生 – I want to be eating it!
My “true” memories of CNY (circa 80s-90s) are, therefore, filled with early morning rituals interrupting my holiday slumber, incense and cigarette smoke, the smell of spilled Yeo’s chrysanthemum/soy bean/sugar cane drinks, dibbing on the steamed chicken drumstick, loud drunk relatives whose names you never remember, Dunhill-sponsored movies that you could barely hear over said loud drunk relatives, sneaking into a quiet room to count your stash of
extorted solicited red money, and the seemingly endless visits to relatives’ homes (that we oblige to go to if only to solicit more red money. extort
Try as I may, these memories can never be replicated again, largely due to the death of my paternal grandparents (and subsequently, their home) who provided the backdrop and avenue for such rambunctious and insanely draining parties to happen. Consider yourself blessed if you still have such an environment to scratch your new year itch. For chums like myself, all we can do is hold on to those impressions – pass it on to your kids or, better yet, start our own traditions. All you need are sunflower seeds, illegal fire crackers, and be ready to part with lots of your hard-earned cash.
That said, I wish you a happy goat/sheep/ram/cabra/lamb year, dear reader. And three cheers for my (and your) Ah Pak and Ah Mah – you and your familial cohorts are to blame for our damaged eardrums, asthma, clogged arteries, and beaming yellow-skin pride.