Celebrating Chinese New Year as an Overseas Chinese

I am miles away from home.  Home where Chinese New Year is celebrated with so much gusto and enthusiasm.  The sounds, sights and smell of Chinese New Year is nowhere to be found.  My kids go to school and I’m left to reminiscence about the good old days, typing away.  Just another ordinary day.

On this day, I replay my many memories of Chinese New Year spent in Singapore.  What else do I have to go back on? Days of anticipation before the actual day.  The shopping frenzy, the food hoarding — walking on the crowded streets of Chinatown in search of the best barbecue meats and preserved ducks.  Haggling with food sellers over a bunch of pussy willows, picking through the ginkgo nuts and fussing over the auspicious banners with its sayings. Maybe the right sayings will bring a happier new year.  Well, pretty skeptical but still, red banners are synonymous with ushering a happier year.

My mind goes back to reunion dinners.  The table invites,  with heaps of dishes, some, only served at this time of the year.  The tossing of “yi san,” heralding plenty of luck and the ubiquitous dumplings (don’t they look like gold nuggets?) — every dish has a significance and invariably they revolve around luck, prosperity and goodwill.

What did I have for my reunion dinner here?  A miserly roasted chicken.  Fish is synonymous  with prosperity, so what’s an overseas Chinese to do?  Broil some good luck charms — I hope fish sticks will do. As for dumplings, I have a full mind to wrap some fortunes in those wanton skins but hey, I ran out of time and motivation.  I sure hope it’s the thoughts that count. And oh, I  make a salad.  Well, my mom would cringe at that.  Now, what kind of reunion dinner is that?

It’s not just the food I’m drooling over.  I miss family and friends. All  miles away.  Even phone calls are a far cry from being physically there.

So when my group of overseas Chinese friends call for a celebration, I didn’t hesitate.  We’re going to a Chinese restaurant that features the lion dance today.  Maybe, that will help with this longing for the good old days.


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