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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