It is Chinese New Year again. Well, yesterday was to be exact.
When the boys woke up from their nap late in the afternoon, we ventured over to my parents’ in various shades of red (the traditional CNY colour – in case you haven’t already noticed) with a small bag of oranges (because arriving empty-handed is a ‘no-no’ – according to my mum anyway).
I could smell the tantalising food in the air as soon as we stepped in. The kitchen was laid out with all the fresh ingredients that mum had spent the previous day buying. There were of course also the usual red melon seeds on the kitchen bench, along with the lollies in shiny red and golden wrappers – all designed to usher in the new year with as much prosperity and wealth as possible. Naturally
Mum then spent the next two hours cooking our CNY meal while the boys systematically spread mess all around the living area. It is a true testament to my mum’s love for her grandchildren that she actually doesn’t seem to mind when they do this – considering that my ‘neat freak’ gene is most definitely inherited from my mother. One wonders whether I will be as selfless when I am a grandmum myself (no pressure boys, but if you have babies, I will let them be messy – in at least one room of the house).
Anyway, Pete decided that CNY would be the perfect time to try crawling. And crawl he did. For about twenty centimetres anyway. And it wasn’t a pretty crawl. No, it definitely wasn’t – not unless one likes watching strained squirming, painful writhing and awkward gyration of the derriere. But it was nonetheless a crawl and it was absolutely hilarious (and entertaining) to watch – and film. I felt very proud of my little man.
Dinner on the table looked – and smelt – amazing. I have to say that nothing quite tugs at my heart as my mum’s cooking. I’m quite sure that when I’m fifty, I will still be wandering over to mum’s, asking if she can make me soy sauce chicken wings, pork ribs with Chinese mushrooms and chicken feet soup.
Just as we were all seated and ready to commence our celebratory banquet, mum looked at me in utter shock and horror: she had forgotten to cook the rice! My poor mother – she was utterly devastated as she realised that our bowls would not be filled with white puffy grains of pure carbohydrate. I reassured her that it was fine – and indeed, all the food that she had prepared was more than enough to fill our tummies and quench our hunger. (Later I was thoroughly amused when she tried to suggest that I was meant to remind her to put the rice on at about quarter past five. How is a filial and respectful Chinese daughter meant to respond to that one? You tell me.)
Apart from food and family, there is one other aspect of CNY that has always appealed to me: the red packets. Yes, sadly and admittedly, I am a greedy human being who enjoys (rather immensely) opening crispy red packets filled with crispy (real) money. After all, the tradition was ingrained into me from the age of four – I never really stood a chance when you think about it.
It probably also doesn’t help my greed that I am now taking home five times what I used to. When I was young and single, my parents gave me two red packets (one from each of them). When Rick and I got married, they gave us four red packets (one from each of them to each of us). After Angus was born, we received six red packets (you do the maths). Last year when I was eight months and three weeks pregnant with Pete at CNY, we received double what we did when it was just us two. And now this year, with James only a month and a half away from popping out, my parents gave us ten red packets in total. Woot!
(Naturally, I wouldn’t recommend having more kids just for the sole purpose of reaping greater returns at CNY – after all, you probably have to be Chinese first – but it’s definitely a nice little fringe benefit.)
Anyway, here’s hoping that the new Chinese year will get off to a better start for our family than the Western one did. May the drama and sleeplessness of this last month not pervade the ever auspicious lunar calendar.
Happy Chinese New Year peeps! (Even if you are not Chinese.)
p.s. You can see some photos here.