Come Monday, we will celebrate the new lunar year of the dragon. School will be closed for the entire week and E has also taken extra days off work to be free for the week. This year, like in past years, we are celebrating Chinese New Year modestly. We exchange food hampers with immediate family, get together for the reunion dinner, give the kids angpows, visit my parents on the second day and meet up with a small group of friends where possible.
I didn't do any special spring cleaning of the house. Neither have we put up any decorations so far! We're even slower in getting into the CNY spirit this year compared to last year. At least last year, we took out whatever little decor items we had in storage and hung them around the house. This year, we didn't buy any and have been too lazy to dig the old ones out of storage. Today, my mum gave me two cardboard cutout dragon motif decor pieces so I shall put them up tomorrow morning. Otherwise, it will be obsolete next year. Two days ago, I went on an express shopping trip to get some new clothes for ACE as a symbolic act of having something new.
It is customary to have as much as possible things that are new in the house and on ourselves -- out with the old, in with the new for a good, fresh start to the new year. Back in the day, the entire house will be washed inside and outside, repainted, old cushion covers, curtains, sheets replaced with new ones, and several sets of new clothes including pyjamas, undergarments, shoes, accessories will be bought or tailored. The kitchen will be bustling and emanating with various aromatic odours of festive dishes and other goodies like cookies, cakes and 'nian gao'. And it is common understanding that all homes are open to visitors so we can just go to our family's and friends' houses anytime we wish.
These days, everything is commercialised from spring cleaning (hired cleaners from cleaning agencies), to new clothes (so many choices from boutiques and departmental stores), to cookies and nian gao (no need to make your own, you can buy them from just about anyone/anywhere). And open houses are 'organised' with invitations for guests to come on a certain day at specified times.
Aah, I could go on and on comparing the CNY I experienced as a child compared to the one C has been experiencing but I guess we've only got ourselves to blame for not carrying on the same practices. It's also partly due to the fact that times have changed.
Whatever it is, we just need to remember that it's not so much the activities of the festival but the spirit of it and more importantly that it's spent with family and friends. And C is definitely getting into the spirit so to speak, as portrayed in this dialogue I had with her a few moments ago:
Me to C who had been watching TV all evening: It looks like you're not going to get any homework done today!
C: Come on, I gotta celebrate....
Me, puzzled: Celebrate what??
C: Chinese New Year!!
So here's wishing one and all a new year of good health, wealth and prosperity, as how it's typically worded for this festive occasion.
Gong Xi Fa Cai! Xin Nian Kuai Le! Wan Shi Ru Yi!