- Registration time
- Last login
- Online time
- 281 Hour
- Reading permission
(CNN) -- For me, Chinese New Year used to be fun.|
When I was a kid, I was excited during Chinese New Year when I got lai see and I could stay up late. I even had access to candy, a once-a-year treat while living under the roof of my Tiger Mom.
Then at some point in my twenties, Chinese New Year became a chore. Not any garden variety chore, but a cold-sweat-inducing family obligation that I try hard to avoid.
As an adult, Chinese New Year is an annual nightmare, for the following reasons:
1. I find it sucks when you are single
Relatives feel that they have a right to judge you because you do share bits of D N A, so, really, it's almost like they're judging themselves.
Typically, the extended family gathers for Chinese New Year and spends an inordinate amount of time together, during which people get bored and focus their restlessness on judging the younger generation, particularly those who are single.
Singledom means a lack of responsibilities and responsibility-free people need to be reined in by the wisdom of elders, or they will be reckless with their directionless lives.
Here are some unavoidable conversations at Chinese New Year. By "conversations" I really mean monologues by one Wise Elder or another, fired away at a particular Single Younger in a trance-like manner:
"Why don't you have a boy friend? If you have a boy friend, why don't you get married?"
"Why are you not dieting at least a little bit? Second Cousin Yong Yong will have to start bringing clothes from America for you."
"What happened to your hair? Blue is not such a good color for us Chinese people."
"Are you saving up for an apartment? Why not? The most important thing in life is to have a roof over your head. You don't want to be homeless, do you? What if the economy collapses again? At least you will have an apartment."
"Why don't you get a better paid job? You are wasting your talent. You will regret your life."
2. I am employed
I have an income now, so twenty bucks here and there doesn't make a huge difference, but I still retain that child hood anticipation for the red packets. It's just a bit disappointing when I open up an envelope and it isn't concealing a massive check.
And it's the guilt from feeling disappointed that makes me really hate Chinese New Year for making me hate myself.
It's just like being unable to conceal your let down expression when un wrapping that pair of socks at Secret Santa parties.
Gifting is a heart warming tradition. It's the thought that counts. I am not supposed to care. I am a bad person.
There's even worse.
Chinese New Year gambling is just out of hand.
Now that I have a job, I'm expected to bet real money at The Mahjong Table, a no man's land filled with hidden agendas, treacherous scheming and Janus- faced traitors.
If you beat your elder relatives at mahjong one too many times, beware their wrath.
If you lose on purpose to your elders and are unable to skillfully conceal your purposefulness, you risk looking patronizing.
It will put them in a bad mood and lead to a vengeful "what are you doing with your life" interrogation later. See point number one.
If you're simply crap at the game, you lose a load of money and will probably be judged for being not very intelligent. See point number one again.
3. I like good food
When foreigners make jokes about Chinese eating weird foods, I cringe.
When Chinese New Year comes around, I'm the one making the damn jokes.
At this time of year, we do get some incredible festive dishes.
And then there are those odd ones that make you feel like the taste, texture and nutritional content of food have all become irrelevant -- we only eat for superstitions.
Lots of Chinese New Year foods are auspicious in meaning, but atrocious in taste.