Chinese New Year is that time of the year for all sorts of gatherings and feasts. But in the slew of interactions with people (and goodies) we haven’t seen all year, uncomfortable conversations and situations are bound to arise.
As surely as pineapple tarts will make their appearance at each house we visit, our mettle will be tested in the various scenarios presented in this video. Will we stand our ground and respond with grace? Or will we fall prey to the 7 deadly scenes of CNY?
Does the “C” in CNY stand for “Chinese” or “comparison”? Sometimes we’re not sure, because so many of us have seen reunion conversations turn into arenas where little-known relatives compare and flaunt their achievements over the past year. Who has a better GPA? Who got promoted? Out of pride, we easily find ourselves jumping onto the bragging bandwagon, or getting all defensive in the heat of the moment.
Humility, the opposite of pride, is having an accurate valuation of your achievements: Nothing more, nothing less. And there’s nothing wrong in being proud of what we’ve accomplished; we just need to remember that our abilities and successes shouldn’t validate our worth. We can learn to look beyond all these and appreciate the person – even ourselves – simply for who they are.
Hot on the heels of pride is its twin sister, envy. If we aren’t on the bragging bandwagon, comparison might have us chasing after it instead. If only I looked as good in that CNY dress. If only I was doing as well in my career. If only, if only. We look longingly at what others bring to the reunion table and wish we had the same, or better, to offer. We leave the homes we visit feeling lesser as individuals.
Comparison truly is the thief of joy. There will always be someone who’s better in some way, who has something we wish we had, who is #winning at life more than we appear to be. And the chain of comparison is endless! Someone else is probably looking at you and being envious as well. It might be a good idea to stop, take stock of God’s blessings in our lives, and find contentment knowing that what we do have is always enough.
The season of reunions and celebrations gives us a free pass to meet many new faces and reconnect with old ones. Who got hot in the past year? Who’s newly single and ready to mingle? We don’t like to call it by its name, but lust has its way of seeping into our thoughts unnoticed. Under the guise of pop culture and lingo, it manifests in the ways we see and talk about others – especially those we aren’t close to.
Of all the sins we guard ourselves against this CNY, lust may not be the first on our list. But all the more we watch our interactions, words and thoughts as we engage with those who cross our paths at the parties we attend. May what enters our minds and exits our mouths be honourable and edifying to a fellow human being. Sometimes a pineapple tart will do less harm.
Two things we dread about CNY: Calories and certain conversations. It’s inevitable, not seeing each other for possibly the whole year. What else is there to ask? And with that, insensitive questions and remarks are bound to kindle our wrath. In anger, we will be tempted to retort with sarcastic comebacks and harbour ill feelings towards those who hurt us.
Being angry is not wrong in itself, but how do we not sin in our anger (Ephesians 4:26)? Perhaps it starts with a commitment to take control of every emotion that comes our way, and then submit it all to Jesus. So the next time you feel like unleashing an anger-fuelled reply, take a deep breath and reel it back in. We may not be able to control what others say, but we can control our response to them.
If Christmas was bad for the weight watchers, CNY has to be a nightmare. As a celebration of abundance and prosperity, a steady flow of food is a must. Done with this feast? Move to the couch and have some snacks! Is that bak kwa? Better take more – it’s expensive stuff! No need to be paiseh about taking the last piece! If you just got started on your New Year #resolutions, this season might be the ultimate test of willpower.
Gluttony may be an obvious #sin in the calorie-counting book, but what exactly is wrong about enjoying a little more food during a festive season? Probably because it isn’t about enjoying a little more food in the first place – but a lack of self-control and care for our bodies. So go ahead and enjoy the good food, as long as it doesn’t consume you instead.
Maybe it’s the food coma, or the lack of patience for more small talk. After the initial buzz of CNY festivities and traditions, record levels of sloth can be observed as we find ourselves lapsing into prolonged periods of lazing around and mindless TV watching with our relatives. Taken out of our usual schedules, many of us are at a loss of what to do with ourselves.
But there’s one group of people who don’t get to do nothing during CNY, and they are the ones who make it happen. The mothers, aunties and grandmothers who prepare the New Year goodies, cook our sumptuous CNY meals (a different selection for each day!) and clean up after all the guests. Make CNY a little more special for them this year by getting off the couch and into the kitchen to lend a helping hand!
One other thing that always makes CNY visitations a highlight (besides the food): ANGPOW. As long as we remain unmarried and passably young, receiving red packets at the houses we visit is something to look forward to. You never know what you’re going to get. $10? $50? But what about … $2? Do we feel shortchanged when we open angpow with less than the “acceptable” amount of money within?
There’s just something about #money that brings out the #greed in us. It has us bemoaning $2 angpow, strategising which houses to visit based on the generosity of the family, even getting competitive over the size of our year’s angpow earnings. Have we turned this gesture of giving into a gamble instead? Here’s something no amount of angpow money can buy: The time and presence of your loved ones.