Wednesday, 14 March 2007

Chinese New Year 2007

Our CNY every year is about the same. Since we had Micah we celebrate our reunion dinner outside because grandma just can't cook in peace the whole day. What more now that there are two little munchkins running and screaming and climbing and opening all cupboards and drawers. They really demand the attention of an adult all the time when they are awake. My pastor's wife said, " You've got to watch them like a hawk at this age." I can't agree more. One look away could mean the difference of catching them as they fall off the sofa/chair/table/bed and them crashing on the floor; or stopping the rest of the juice/milk/water/soup/tofu/rice/etc. being poured onto the floor. It could also mean the difference between seeing one very excited hand swimming with the panicked aquatic friend in the aquarium/terrapin bowl, and just a few wet fingertips. It also means other incidents and accidents of having cutleries scattered everywhere and uncooked rice/ beans/ onions/ spices sprinkled all over your kitchen floor. Sometimes to add on to the "excitement" the muchkins will be rolling on the floor with whatever that's been poured out. Anyway, back to our reunion dinner, so far for the last three years we have eaten at Chinese restaurants. I can't imagine us ever having Pizza or Nasi Kandar or Sushi for the Reunion dinner. Just not symbolic and traditional enough for me (and I do have quite a say in this ;) In case you do not know, I love traditions and symbolism. Ref. blog of 16Jan07).

The first day of CNY starts with greeting grandma and grandpa "Gong Hei Fatt Choy!" and getting angpows from them, as well as we giving them our token of love and appreciation. Then, after a simple breakfast, it's off to Ah Mah's house (my mum's) and meeting all the Ee Ees and Ah Kus and Ah Teowgn. Of course Xue Bin, too, the star of Ah Mah's house... apart from Petersam and Jack and Jill (Ah Mah's dogs). We do the tea ceremony here properly - no tea serving means no angpow from Ah Mah. Micah really loved serving tea to Ah Mah. Then we all go down to town to visit and old family friend and do our annual update of who's where doing what and our kids'/grand children's progress. It's really very light chatter, filled with giggles and some witty comments, and we are served the usual CNY tit bits along with some very nice wine in the middle of the day. Then we all proceed to have a late lunch outside, IF the kids are all not too sleepy yet. We usually do Indian food or fast food. If the kids are not up to it, then we just do a take out. At night It is steamboat dinner at Ah Mah's house. Mike's parents and brother come along too.

Second day of CNY is when Mike's father's siblings will all come visit. A couple of my friend came by this year and the comment was, "Wow! It's really the CNY mood." It's suppose to be a luncheon, but some of the relatives come as early as 10am to help with the preparation or just to hang around and chat (the men will do that). Anyway, Mike's dad has 3 sisters and 4 brothers, but 2 of the brothers are not in KL. So it's just 3 aunts and 2 uncles, along with their spouses, about 13 cousins, of which 4 of them are married and their spouses will come too, and the next generation, regardless of surnames, totals 6. And not to forget Mike's brother and girlfriend too. On top of that, my mum-in-law's two goddaughters will come to give a helping hand and to add to the festivity too. It's just too much to do the math for now, but you can imagine the whole house running like a carnival from the drive way to the backyard...which spills over to the back lane. Every one takes turn to have lunch on the dining table (suppose to be a 6 seater, but we always manage to put in 8-9 at a time). Grandma had started preparing the food 2 days ahead, so there are three kinds of pork dishes (one with sea cucumber, another with black fungi and the other roasted), a fish, a chicken, a roast duck, two kinds of vegetable dish and soup to go with the rice. So you can imagine what a feast that she has to prepare. Me? I just keep the boys out of her way so she can cook in peace. If I ever get to hand them both over to Mike, I am only useful in cutting garlic or stirring the wok to keep the bottom from sticking, or just wash up whatever is in the sink. Most of the time I have to run off half way anyway to attend to a feed, a boo-boo or a toilet need. By the time lunch is done it's about 3pm and we all will clear the table and do a Low-Sang. After that some of the relatives will play some card games while the others chat, watch TV or play with the kids. By the way, this year I noticed that all the of the kids are BOYS!! We have 2 boys, the first aunt has 2 grandsons and another aunt has a grandson too. Also, mike's youngest uncle who got married quite late has a 5 year old son too. Of course Micah is in charge of making the most noise and tearing around the house. By the time everyone leaves it's usually for them to get their own dinner or some of them will just have dinner together.

This year we had the pleasure of having dinner on the second day with my sister Phek Imm and her family and a couple of old friends from school days. Initially we were thinking of going out for a simple meal, but with all the left-overs, we just ate at our place. Quite a good move actually, save us from having to eat left overs over more days. Must remember to do this next year!

The rest of CNY is spent visiting Ah Mah a few more times because the boys love to play with Xue Bin. Sometimes it's for us to meet up with my relatives from Taiping, Ampang and Puchong who will visit my mom. This year we actually did quite well in visiting some church friends who stay near by. Then, before the end of the first week of all the celebration, we discovered spots on the boys. Micah had about 5 and Max 2. At first we thought they were flea bites, so we cautioned the boys to stay away from the dogs in Ah Mah's house and the stray cats in our back lanes. Two days later it was confirmed they have chicken pox, the blisters had actually burst and they looked like insect bites. Micah had had his chicken pox jab, so he had only 12 spots in total. Poor max, had not had his jab yet, had about 200 spots. Poor baby. So the rest of CNY was spend at home and in Ah Mah's house as we don't want the boys to spread their spots to the public.

Thank God they are all cleared now.

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