Since I live (very) near my grandma and my father is her eldest son, relatives from my father’s side will flock to my grandma’s house (and my father’s house) every Chinese New Year (CNY). It is the moment when my grandma could be together with all of her children again. Unfortunately, that’s not the case with my father this year, as now my sister is in Bintan for two-week business trip. It’s a bit ironic, since last year I was the one who was absent. But I guess in our family case it will easier to be together as I return quite often to Jakarta. Nevertheless, the symbolic meaning of CNY remains, especially for those families whose children have had their own life away from their parents. This is the time to meet wow-you-grow-so-fast cousins who asked, “What’s your name, Ko?” It’s the time of homecoming and family reunion, where the children are supposed to express their filial piety (孝). Of course, the concept is then extended for those who have gone before us, such that we need to make a proper sacrifice for the ancestors. To use a Christian terminology, the celebration of the family militans is shared with the family expectans or triumphans. Thus we prepare meals that they loved to eat during their earthly life, such that they, too, can participate in the festive season like the rest of us. Although, in the end, it would be the living ones who enjoyed the prepared meals for the deceased. At least that was the case in my family — years ago. Now, well, let just say that we express our honour for the dead by a different way.
(When I was a little child, CNY was the moment when my net worth grew. I actually recorded my earnings every year, tracked my GDP growth, and would save the money immediately in the bank. I was a very traditional Chinese, you see. My economy is predicated not on spending but on saving. The money proves to be useful as I used them to pay for fees in the first few months after I graduated. But, as the Preacher says, there is a time for everything. A time to receive, and a time to give. And now CNY is the moment when my net worth drops.)