Reunion table

Reunion is held on the first day of Chinese New Year. The servings on a reunion table according to Chinese tradition signifies abundance. Hence it is customary to have as wide an array of food available on this night. In contemporary society, fad and convenience has taken over tradition. Rarely does one still find whole chickens, suckling pigs, sharks fin, abalones, sea cucumbers, and all kinds of mushrooms and fishes being served except on important occasions as appeasing deities on the altar tables.

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Ang Pow Giving

On the first day of Chinese New Year as Confucianist practice dictates, the entire household of an extended family would tidy themselves up, all nicely coiffured before presenting themselves to the head of the household, (generally the matriarch) to receive special blessings and ang pows (red colored packets containing money symbolizing good luck, prosperity, great health and joy). As receiving ang pows is hierarchical, so it is with the givers, each taking turns distributing whilst juniors kow tow and wish ‘Keong Hee Huat Chye’ as a mark of respect to the givers. In our family we went a step further by serving tea to the elders. It is also customary that once a child got married, they are obligated to give ang pows to their parents. The unmarried are exempted from ang pow giving because to the Chinese, they are still rated a child. Thus, any family members can receive ang pows for as long as they remained single. In our Hokkien tradition, only the womenfolk gives away ang pows. Reason is that the menfolk are supposedly the breadwinners of the family whilst the womenfolk are in charge of household affairs.

This is my extended family.

1st pic- my grandma Gek Kee, receiving blessings from my great grandma, matriarch Saw Kit, at Boon Siew Mansion. Generally as a senior in the family herself, my grandma is no longer entitled to ang pows but I guess that also depends on the generosity of individuals and the wealth of each family.. Matriarch Saw Kit’s life sized bronze statue still graces the Home of the Infirmary, Penang.

2nd pic- Aunt Guat Eng, Aunt Gim Ean (deceased), Aunt Guat Hong, Aunt Loh Ean, Uncle Kah Poh (deceased), unidentified Aunt and my mom (deceased). Aunt Guat Hong and 2nd Tniau Seng Leong kow towed.

3rd pic- Tiny tots group pic with matriarch. Kah Heng (deceased), Kah Bee, and Kah Kheng (deceased).

An extended family has added advantages except for privacy and at least three generations of one household lives and stays together. That was the in -thing of that period for well to do family’s with big houses.

Images copyrighted. Circa 50s.

Exceeded Excrete Life

“I’m at an age where I’m supposedly marked ‘safe’. There’re no urges I cannot explain, I don’t ogle at freshly baked muffs, and I walked around gleefully, pretending to look young but inimitably, all my good ol’ features kept wasting away and cranking at the joints. In a few years time, I will be entitled to benefits accorded my age. Civil society had it all thought out already- designated foot paths, regular health checks, cinema and travel concessions, stuffs which are ironically more useful to me when I was younger. All except for that which I grimace and longed to have, but quite incapable of performing.
Age does strange things to one’s eyesight really. Wrinkles vanished completely from everyone you gaze at and older women suddenly looks sweet and desirable. At times, you see multiples of them instead of one.
Alas! and after I have exceeded excrete life and my opinions no longer reverberates the eardrums of my dear shadow cabinet congregating at the regular coffee shops, the only muscle flex I’d be left with would be the drool flowing down the corner of my mouth each time a temptress straddles by. It’s so surreal really.
And what do you know? My whole person is already stammering but my beloved bloke snugging in between my crotch still thinks he is the next superhero!
Come to think of it, getting older could be fun. When you’re asked to do something that you’re lazy about? and you point to your neck or wherever while cringing your face..
Anyway, the rest of my time I guess would be spent monologuing and bumping onto furniture corners.. Then wait for the day when they tagged me with a champagne glass’ and an ‘umbrella’ symbol followed by ‘This Side Up’. “

Monopoly

“Market forces and demand varies the world over. Thus, to market a fair that claims to cut across the continents is amusing, if not to continuously keep the pecan pie to yourself by killing two birds with one stone. 1) by depleting the coffers of smaller galleries by inducing them to pay exorbitant fair charges which stumps their cash flow and stunt their growth; and 2) using those gains to boost and sustain the star status of bigger galleries and their artists thus deflating the prospect of smaller galleries, all in the name of western monopoly.”