Five Things to Remember this Chinese New Year

By FS Lim

The buzz that comes along with the Chinese New Year festivity - whether it be in baking, cooking, cleaning or even traveling - can get stressful and even overwhelming, causing many of us to miss out the joy and purpose of the occasion. As in other celebrations, children appear to be the ones who enjoy themselves the most - carefree and always knowing how to make all things fun and merry. How about us seniors? If the ones who have the least experience can make the most out of the time of coming together, what about the ones who ‘technically’ have more years, experience and knowledge? Here are five things to bear in mind that can help us as seniors and others around us enjoy this Lunar New Year more meaningfully together as family and friends. 1. Not just another Chinese New Year As senior adults, most of us would never take our time for granted. We are well aware the opportunity to celebrate an annual festivity will diminish as each year passes us by. Hence, making it to every reunion dinner with kin, family and loved ones should count as an occasion not to be missed - thanks to tradition, it doesn’t even require our personal effort to get everyone together. It’s built into every person’s DNA, regardless of ethnicity or culture - to get home to family at least once a year! 2. It’s the company; everything else is bonus So what if the yee sang seems a tad bland this year because the salmon slices have sky-rocketed in price? Or does there seem to be less dishes on the menu than previous years? While we all would look forward to gastronomic dishes at the Chinese New Year dinner, it may very well be the people seated around the table whom we should be appreciating more. Lavish your attention on those whom you seldom get to see during the year; listen to their stories and ask about their hopes for the new year. Let someone else assume the duties as masterchef instead of you. 3. Don’t be the predictable Senior Don’t be the senior that young adults wish to avoid. We have all been subjected to inquisitive and intrusive personal questions that made us feel uncomfortable when we were younger. Contrary to belief, there are many things that we can talk about with younger people besides their marital status, boyfriend, girlfriend or lack of baby or babies. Why not inquire about their work satisfaction, success, health, latest hobbies or viewpoints regarding an ongoing topic in the news? 4. Turn off your 3C Mode - Compare, Complain, Commiserate Being the older presence in the midst of company, we sometimes have the privilege of holding court in many conversations. Unfortunately, as we grow older, the default mode in our communication is that of comparing, complaining or commiserating about our children, aches, pains and disabilities. It takes effort to avoid this slide, but we can be intentional in keeping our tone positive - why not use our experiences to share in others’ joy and encourage those who feel down during this season? 5. Be the Pre-emptive Peacemaker Family reunions can be a hotbed of conflict and disagreement. As seniors of households, we should exercise our wisdom and experience to spot and pre-empt potential flashpoints that may occur during these get-togethers. By keeping ourselves alert and always impartial, we can use our respected position as seniors to prevent the festive occasion from being ruined when members get into verbal (and sometimes physical!) altercations over petty and immaterial matters. As the weather turns hot and humid this season, let’s try to be the chill pill to make an amazing difference to the celebration this Chinese New Year. Gong Xi Fa Cai!