death by paper cut

{February 8, 2008}   re-visiting visiting

i used to love lunar new year visiting when i was much younger. back then, the adults were more generous, and seemed more sincere in seeing you again, or maybe i was just naive.

because my grandmother – the only living matriarch – lives with us, all my mom’s sisters and brothers (6 in total) and their families would gather at my place for lunar new year lunch. lunch is never a grand affair, just beehoon and whatever chinese new year goodies are available.

when i was younger, a cousin and i would hide in the toilet of our relatives’ place after receiving our red packets to compare notes, pun not intended. but with each passing year as we grow older, we become less boisterous, less uninhibited, more polite, more reserved.

i’ve become neutral to seeing my cousins who i meet only once a year and averse to hearing the comments of the aunties and uncles. with wide plastered smiles, we wish each other the greetings of the season while fearing what next would emerge from their lips, all the while preparing a quick comeback or a dodge for a change in subject. its emotionally draining.

although i’ve known this all along, this is the very first year that my extended family actually put into practice the “new tradition” of not providing red packets to young unmarried people who are in the work force. i’ve never been skipped over so blatantly before. blame the new erp gentries, rising gst, increasing cost of … everything, while hiding the recent holiday, new house and bigger car.

once the matriarch passes on, the impetus for gathering will also become a thing of the past.


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