Reunion Dinner – is it still relevant?

Since it is still Chinese New Year, I’d like to do post-mortem on Reunion Dinner. I know it is over but I hope with this, some who had not enjoyed a truly wholesome Reunion Dinner would try to make an effort to have a better one next year. Wholesome, I mean, all generations being present at the dining table.

I remember back then when my late grandma was still with us. We had 4 generations of family members in the house for dinner. Imagine the crowd and the noise we made throughout the night! The men would drink till past midnight, the children played with firecrackers, cards or merely chatting away. Those were the days! These days, it’s just my family, minus me, on the Eve of Chinese New Year.

As I mentioned in my last post last night, Reunion Dinner is where children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, etc. meet at the elderly parents’ home to enjoy dinner together. For married couples, they would return to the men’s family for the important dinner on the eve of Chinese New Year. Then, some married women would return to their own parents’ home on the first or second day of the Chinese New Year. This happens when one observes the Chinese tradition. Why this is so is because when a woman gets married, she is married into the family of her husband’s. Therefore, she follows her husband back to his family home first, especially for the Reunion Dinner.

What happened in this modern world is that, many couples do not observe such practice anymore, which in the eyes of the elderly parents or grandparents, is not right at all. Some adult children with their own children and in-laws, would like to start their own tradition with Reunion Dinner at their own homes instead of their elderly parents’. Of course, if the head of the family is firm, he will still get all his children, grandchildren and so on to come to the main house for that one occasion.

Imagine otherwise. One after another child will decide not return to celebrate the Reunion Dinner with their elderly parents…..wouldn’t it be a very quiet, lonely and sad Chinese New Year for them? The parents who once worked hard to bring up all these children to who they are today, abandon them during such joyous occasion! Sad, isn’t it? Of course we excuse those who can’t make it back in time for Reunion Dinner due to work commitment, whatsoever.

I may be modern in many ways but at heart, on certain things on life, I still observe the traditions, out of unquestionable respect for them. Sometimes, people need some kind of rules (like traditional practices) to keep the family together especially when it gets larger and scattered.

So, for those who had chosen to stay away from parents’ home for Reunion dinner this year, for reason simply to start their own little family Reunion Dinner, please stop right there. Go back to the good old days. Our parents are no longer young. We don’t know how many more remaining days or years of their lives we can enjoy with them. Why not make the best out of these years of their lives. Let them enjoy such special and memorable Reunion Dinner and if you wish to have another such dinner, you may make one on the next day or so, at your own home, if you like.

Remember, what you did to your elderly parents, it may come back to haunt you one day or it may be repeated on you by your own children, to you, one day, in the far future. Let us do the right things right. Leave no regrets to the living. Show how much we love our parents and how much we cherish their love raising us to who we are today. Let our children and grandchildren get to know these great people in our lives. Make the effort, after all it’s just once a year. Let’s not be strangers….

Again, wishing all Gong Xi Fa Cai and cheers to all for the beginning of a wonderful and prosperous new year!

~ Alice N.


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Happy Chinese New Year

Today is the eve of Chinese New Year…of the year of Dragon. To me, every year is a good year, every new year is the beginning of a great new chapter.

Today is the day when family members from all over come together at their parents home, to enjoy a sumptuous Reunion Dinner. In my case, as a married woman, I must return to my husband’s family home for the Reunion Dinner. I shall only go back to my parents’ on the second day of Chinese New Year. This is a traditional practice, of course. Some modern families do not follow such practice anymore. It is very much depending on the elders in the family or both families.

Back to Reunion Dinner. You can hear laughter and cheers through the windows of each household, celebrating this happy occasion. Right after dinner, married people would distribute “ang pow” (or called red packet/envelope. These envelopes, which contain money, are perceived as extremely auspicious when given as a gift) to family members.

Besides tucking delicious food into our stomachs, we also catch up on one another’s life events. Some adults and children will be playing firecrackers, whilst some choose other light entertainment like playing cards. Firecrackers and fireworks will reach highest note at midnight. That’s when you can hear continuous loud bangs throughout the town and the dark sky lighted up by colorful fireworks. This can go on for 15 to 30 minutes long!

One thing I learnt when I got married is that, children, usually adult children would stay up past midnight. This practice is called “shou sui” meaning children who “shou sui” will increase the longevity of the parents. I don’t bother to check the fact but just do as they do…if it is good for them, it’s good for me!

This evening, we do our house cleaning as come midnight, being the New Year, it is believed that we cannot sweep the floor, or do all sorts of sweeping or brushing. On New Year’s Eve, all brooms, brushes, dusters, dust pans and other cleaning equipment are put away. Sweeping or dusting should not be done on New Year’s Day for fear that good fortune will be swept away. In our families, we do not question the taboo or superstition, just go with the flow out of respect for the elders.

Well, I have to make this shorter than usual. It’s the Eve of Chinese New Year. Have to get back to my duties….

Here’s wishing everyone a new year blessed with continuous good health, fortune and happiness! Gong Xi, Gong Xi, Gong Xi Fa Cai!!!

~ Alice N.


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Does A Plan Work After All?

The first couple of weeks of the new year, also a new school term, made working people with school-going children like me, ran around like headless chicken. Well, at least, that was how I felt, trying to do my best to settle our lovely children’s school needs. Paying all kinds of fees, selecting extra-curricular activities, creating studies/activities schedules, etc.

I planned and was glad that mostly worked out well. End of first week, I was presented with the first change to my plans. It was a smart solution and I accepted it with great relief. We have now moved on to a comfortable routine. Of course, as we’ve already known, life is full of uncertainties. Nothing remains permanent as it is, so some changes along the way must be expected. Just keep ourselves open to changes….like I always say to myself, “live one day at a time“.

Hold it! I must qualify my statement, I live a day at a time. When we plan for a year, our master plan may look huge, gigantic, humongous, in fact overwhelming, depending on how ambitious and optimistic we are. Like a riddle, “how does one eat an elephant?”. In our minds we visualize a huge animal. You’ll come up with all kinds of creative answers, from tools to kill it to how to cook it. Okay, this is just a riddle, please don’t get upset here. No one’s eating an elephant. Not me. I may not be especially fond of many animals but I won’t do anything to harm them.

Now, back to the riddle. The simplest answer is, “a bite at a time”. That explains why I said “I live a day at a time”. When you treat your plan this way, you’ll be able to see it through and still get to smell the roses. When the mind is calm and more alert, it is hard to miss any great opportunities that come your way. Though this new opportunities may change some part of your original plan or even turn your plan upside down, if it’s going to give you better results, what’s stopping you from embracing them? Hey, who’s to complain when you can get more than what you ask for? Just count your blessings and move along.

You see, a plan is like a road map. It’s a sketch for the route to reach your destination. Not everyone follows the route religiously. Some may take a diversion, a postponement, or even change the destination altogether due to current circumstances. A plan is not a rigid law to follow, but just a guide to lead you to where you want to go, always subjected to changes.

When we plan, we plan to succeed. With a plan in place, even when you do fall, you won’t fall too far off the target. I would strongly encourage you to plan ahead. Big plans, small plans, any plans. Best is now when it is just the beginning of a new year. While planning, you may want to share it with your partner/spouse/BFF, someone who could give you moral support to see it through. Someone whom you can trust to deliver honest feedbacks. Then, remember to relax and review from time to time. Be flexible to changes. Open your mind to anything and everything around you.

If you discovered that your initial plan hasn’t worked out at all, look at it more objectively. Conduct a post-mortem. If you like, rope in a trusted “buddy” to brainstorm it together. Check how the plan was created in the first place. Were you too ambitious? Or, maybe the plan wasn’t challenging enough to be given due attention? Remember in my last post on New Year Resolutions? Be realistic and make it practical. The plan must be challenging enough, motivating you to act on it.

I guess, enough said. It’s now time to act. Let’s do it!

Year 2012 is the year of Dragon in the Chinese Calendar. If I may say so, “May you ride the Dragon to great heights in 2012!!!”

~ Alice N.


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New Year Resolutions

2011 past so fast that I barely could catch my breath! Many good things happened in my life throughout the 12 wonderful months. I can only describe it as productive yet challenging. I managed to complete what I set out for, except for two things, i.e. hitting the gym to getting that few kilograms off my body and learning a new (Thai or Korean) language. So, like accounting, they would be carried forward to 2012 (sigh)…Still, I feel so blessed with how the whole year events turned out to be. Many thanks to my loving family, friends, associates and my Sunday school students.

Now, 2012 is here! My daughter once watched the movie 2012, became afraid that it’ll turn to reality. All I can say to comfort her is that no one knows when is the end. So, let’s not sweat over anything which is beyond our control. Instead, to make full use and make good, of every second of our lives, on this amazing earth. Think positively always. It’s relief that children learn fast and able to understand adults well. If, however, you find my words rather depressing, especially the beginning part, my humble apologies to you, my friends. No intention to cause any kind of misery to you.

Oh yes, the new year…a fresh start of the new calendar, diaries, planning for the year and of course the ever popular New Year Resolutions! So, what are your resolutions? Make more money, spend more time with family, go for more vacations, getting married, buying that flashy car you’ve been eyeing for, study harder, climb another mountain, losing weight, have healthier diet, go to the gym more frequently, go green, make peace, be more grateful, learning new language(s), be more charitable, be a volunteer, the list goes on….

Whatever you set for yourself, make sure it is realistic and achievable. Don’t just make it look good on paper. Make it challenging and at the same time, motivating to achieving it in the end. Your resolution is meant for you and you only. So, it is good to focus on your needs and wants, what you want to realize this whole year. If you still have any outstanding items in last year’s resolution, bring it/them forward. Add to your current list.

It would be most helpful if you could make your resolution visible at all times. If you like, make a Resolution Board, filled with pictures of what you want done or achieved. That shall act as a great reminder to stay the course. Do bear in mind that everything around us changes in time. Therefore, if the direction you are heading happen to divert due to current environment, situation or whatever, be flexible with your plans. Do not be too hard on yourself if you happen to divert from your goals temporarily. Once the time is right, just hop back on track.

If however, you find that certain item in your list has become irrelevant, it is alright to take it off. Then, you may wish to replace with something more relevant to your current situation. There is no hard and fast rule about realizing every item in your resolution. Life is full of uncertainties. No one can be sure how an event will unfold at the end, right? So, keep cool, keep moving forward.

My New Year Resolutions are to lose that extra kilo, learn Thai +/- Korean languages and complete my laser treatment (for Syringoma) as planned, just to name a few. I must admit that I still have not completed the whole list yet. I have been busy shopping, from one mall to another, in preparing for the new school year and the upcoming festive season. Most tiring…physically and mentally. I think I might have lost a kilo or so, from brisk walking around these the large malls.

Very well then. I shall leave you to completing your New Year Resolutions. Remember to keep them realistic, achievable and motivating….wishing you all the best for the new year! Have faith that it is going to be another fabulous year ahead! 🙂

Cheers,
Alice N.


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2011 in review – THANKS to my loyal readers & Happy 2012! :)

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2011 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 4,900 times in 2011. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 4 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.