Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Home for the holidays - those beautiful red envelopes

I'm home! I'm home! I'm home!

I know no one's reading this, but all who matters know I'm back in Malaysia to celebrate the Chinese New Year. And this year is the year of the golden boar which only happens every 600 years. Not an ordinary boar year that's fer sure. Supposedly, kids who are born this year will prosperous for the most part and never suffer any hardship. All you married (or not. It's a choice really) couples out there. Buckle down - you still have time!

So back to me and my celebrations so far. I arrived on the first day of CNY. Mom and dad picked me up. There I was at the airport wishing them good fortune with what little festivity-vocabulary I have so I could quickly tuck the thick bright red envelopes in my pocket. Then we headed home where I saw dad's family happily playing cards and munching on vegetarian food. Fun fun. Too bad the jetlag hit me, so all I managed was many a "Happy CNY aunty/uncle/cuz! I wish you a year of wealth, health, and much more to look forward to" followed by a pause, a huge smile, and sometimes necessary "Ok, where's my angpow?" followed by another wide smile. Then I showered and hit the sack. A dear dear friend of mine chided my behavior, saying "Woah! What happened to being courteous and showing less greed here? Do you know what the red envelopes symbolize?" To which I said "Umm, money?" I can't even remember what his answer was but I started questioning my behavior. Mom and dad have always taught us to mind our Ps and Qs. There I was openly showing greed?

So I spent the next 36 hours at home studying my surroundings and finally realized that my three beautiful sisters do the exact same thing! And they're no less socially acquiescent and polite than my lovely role-model of a mother. To give you background - if ever there was a bevy of Asian debutantes from KL they'd come from the Chong family. I may think twice when one of us decides to be openly daring and burps in a fancy restaurant but most of my friends can attest - right? :) Therefore, I've come to the conclusion that it's really fine to ask for your well-deserved angpows (for holding off marriage for so long, or for dealing with grownups who tell you what to do all the time, etc.) as long as you ask it in the most mannerly fashion.

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