Festive times are a time to share, give and reconnect with the family.
As I was doing my weekly grocery shopping and met a few friends along the way, we greeted each other with our normal pleasantries. Yet when I asked them how they were, suddenly their demure changed totally… citing: dreading Christmas time, being so busy with so many functions to attend, presents to purchase, family gatherings to plan etc.
It reminded me of my own childhood; during the weeks leading up to Chinese New Year was the most tiring time of the year, and yet the most fun and happy times for the children.
The fun part was we will had relatives visitng during the weekends to help with the cake making (yes, we start making Chinese new year cookies weeks before the actual event). For the young children, it was the best opportunity to connect and play with our cousins and reconnect with our aunts and uncles.
While we could not avoid being sent to the kitchen to help the adults with the cookie-making, we still could chit chat while making cookies and doing other chores. We kept each other up to date with what's happening in our lives, school work, and friends, but most of all, we embraced in the warmth of being surrounded by family, and when the chores were all done, it was play time for all of us.
Every family is busy during the festive seasons, and there is no difference over Christmas . It is a time where almost everyone takes time off work, offices are shut, and families all over the world make time to meet up and celebrate the festivity together.
Yes, it takes efforts, time and energy to plan and organise, especially if you are the host, where you have to cook, serve and supply accommodation to relatives. I remember relatives came to our home in Malaysia, as our grandparents lived with us, thus our place was the "FAMILY" home for our uncles and aunties to meet up and to stay during family gatherings and festivities.
I remembered my parents were busy with the planning and hosting, reorganising rooms for accommodation. My mum would be borrowing pillows and mattresses to accommodate the relatives staying with us. To some extent, we (the children) would resent this as we had to give up our rooms for relatives, but we accepted it as it was all part of "give and take" as a family practice in our culture. Looking back, this is part of learning how to be flexible and to adapt in any situation you are in.
So, for the younger generations, while we got over the resentment, we had to help to organise the rooms, setting up mattresses, swipping and dusting the flooring and windows, preparing the bedsheets and pillowcases etc. We complained, but we had a bigger mission in our mind, which was to meet up with our cousins, to play and celebrate the new year with them together.
Looking back now, yes, we hated the work that we had to put in, but despite all that, we carried those fond memories with us. Those shared experiences and special relationships were established during those moments with our families.
The closeness we have today was built on those every day encounters: those festive gatherings and celebrations, those cookie-making sessions, the laughters, those outbursts with our parents, those resentful moments when we had to give up our rooms to accommodate our relatives etc.
Festive time like Christmas is a time to share, to give and to reconnect to not only to self but your family and friends around you. It is also about sharing your culture and family traditions with the younger generations, to enable them something to remember and cherish with you, while having something to share and pass on to their families in the future.
While we are on the topic of family and festivities, I am sharing this beautiful clip that I came across recently. Enjoy!