This was the first time my wife and I celebrated Chinese New Year without our children. They were all overseas. This felt empty, but that’s why they call it empty nest!
However it was a joy to have Baby and family, Simeon, and my brother over for reunion dinner on the eve. My wife cooked up a storm and the combination of dishes looked impressive.
On the first day it was to my eldest brother home that my siblings and their family gathered. It is a good tradition to pay respect to the eldest on the male side – in keeping with ancient Chinese traditions. CNY is all about family and the lunar new year. In China, after a long cold winter, the first signs of spring is always welcome. In Singapore, it’s hot all the year round. There isn’t that sense of anticipation that makes CNY so welcome. Nevertheless, we keep some of the traditions.
Later it was another potluck dinner with my mum’s siblings and families, and the second day of CNY was a potluck meal in my home again.
After these several rounds of makan, conversation and in particular cooking, for my wife, she felt absolutely tired and needed a few days of afternoon naps to recover. She gets better at cooking with each passing year but the spirit is willing and the body is stretched to its limits.
Next year we may get smarter. But I don’t know how because whatever smart ideas will be offset by the return of my two sons and their families. We may cook less days, but still cook more food. Ha….. still at least it is a good problem.
My wife could have a time-out but I couldn’t because I had to preach on Sunday, which was the 6th day of Chinese New Year and a day we launched the Andrew Initiative to all three congregations: the English and Mandarin and deaf congregations together. This poses the challenge of communications that suit quite different people groups. Thank God for his grace that it was suitably done. What an exciting and meaningful and tiring Chinese New Year!
We rejoice in all the blessings of health, prosperity and success because ultimately God is the source of this abundance. Praise Father, Son and Holy Spirit! Amen.
The seven day rest was sweet. They were days of eating well. We were in Bangkok, in my wife’s sister’s home. Breakfasts were leisurely and we had homemade chwee kueh and carrot cake besides the great walnut bread and Thai avocado. Lunch was mostly in the shopping malls. We enjoyed the Thai meals at Banana Leaf. And there were many Japanese restaurants but we liked Fuji Japanese restaurant. Dinner was mostly at family run restaurants located at or near the condo.
The weather was lovely and refreshing, from 18 to 25 degrees centigrade. The cool breeze flowed into the home through the open balcony while we had breakfast. At night the cold air passed through the mosquito mesh and chilled the bedroom. During a day trip to the Bangsean Beach at Chon Buri, we had to wear windbreakers. If these temperatures prevailed through the year Bangkok would be a delightful and inexpensive place to live in.
I was tired and it was good to get into a rhythm of sleep and eat and shop. The shopping malls were similar to what we have in Singapore. Some local brands like BreadTalk and Charles and Keith and all the usual international brands were represented. Imported products were not any cheaper than what you had to pay in Singapore. The MacBook Air sold at the same price as in Singapore. However there were some sales going on and we took full advantage of that.
Chinese New Year is not celebrated in Thailand. There are no public holidays given. In Singapore, we have two public holidays on Monday and Tuesday. Over in Bangkok these were working days for everyone. So it’s a good place to have your “escape” from the stress of Chinese New Year celebrations in Singapore. All the shops and restaurants were open. There were no long queues outside popular restaurants. In fact we had steamboat at MK for the reunion dinner. It was like any other day – business as usual.
I brought two books along Unfolding His Story by Georgie Lee and Galven Lee and Preaching by Timothy Keller. I finished the former by day three and was three quarters through reading the latter. Both were good books and I hope to share my reflections on them in this blog.
My wife’s sister Baby showed great and attentive hospitality and we were greatly blessed by the attention to detail and her constant thoughtfulness and patience. She did the bargaining in the 180 year old market and in the shopping malls, and in getting information from Thai vendors. She has lived in Bangkok for over two decades and speaks Thai with ease (which makes her tri-lingual!).
Near the end it became stressful because our shopping booty was more than the luggage weight we purchased. We had to buy additional weight to bring all our shopping home. Besides this minor glitch, we had a great escape indeed: great rest, food, shopping, reading and unwinding from all the strains of Singapore life. I returned refreshed.