It’s that time of year again. Sigh.
To be honest, Chinese New Year hasn’t been my favorite holiday ever since I became an adult (i.e. graduated and started working). I’m not even sure why!
I think it’s the hecticness of it all – packing and rushing back to Penang, getting stuck in the jam and wasting time, staying in my grandparents’ air-condition-less house, dealing with mosquitos, being 2-3 hours late for sure for pai nian on account of my mother who inadvertently takes her own sweet time talking to her sisters and putting on makeup while the rest of us sit around sweltering in our CNY finery. And nobody can get angry at Mummy Ooi or else we all have to put up with silent treatment on CNY. Lolol. True story.
But all these petty adult details didn’t matter when I was a kid I guess. Wasting time? Who cares when the time was being spent away from school! No aircon? Got dogs and cousins around! (now cousin also grown up and busy with own family while dog died wtf)
On Chinese New Year, we’d all wake up early, get dressed in new clothes (including underwear and socks) and rush around wishing the entire family (we usually stay with my mom’s parents) Kong Hei Fatt Choy and get our expected red packets. At one point Ooib and I even had matching waist pouches to keep our angpaus cos we were calculative and competitive like that.
Then after we were done at my Ah Gong and Poh Poh’s house, we’d move on to my dad’s parents’ house. For some reason we were more traditional when it came to my Ah Ma and Yeh Yeh and we’d have our annual tea ceremony!
(we’re Hokkien so rightfully his name should be Ah Gong (Hokkien intonation) instead of Yeh Yeh. Apparently when I was little I couldn’t say Ah Gong – although dunno why for my mom’s side I could wtf – so he was Yeh Yeh from then.)
Me and Ooib would serve tea to my grandparents, and they’d bless us for the year and give us more angpaus, then my parents would serve tea to them, then we’d serve tea to our parents. A lot of photo taking ensues.
But since my Yeh Yeh died, we’ve stopped doing all that.
He was the closest grandparent to me cos when my parents were working in KL, he took care of me while my grandma took care of Ooib (cos Ooib was very attached to her and at that point in his life could only speak Hokkien wtf). My early memories of him include him tickling my feet while I fell asleep (a habit that I’m trying to instill in Fatty; him telling us ridiculous stories that always featured fat kids and farts WTF; scolding me to close my coffeeshop cos I always sat with my legs wide open; him walking down the street to buy me koay teow thng wtf. Maybe after his death subconsciously for me everything changed.
The reason why I’m talking so much about CNY and my Yeh Yeh is this series of videos by Maxis, appropriately tagged #yehyehstories
Okla my grandpa is nothing like this Maxis grandpa hahaha. But enjoy!
More #yehyehstories here.