A time to cherish gift of family

Yee sang

It is utter chaos and noise level is up the ante with chatters from uncles, aunties and cousins echoing as they exchange voices in a mixture of sounds.

Yes, it is that time of the year again where many Malaysians celebrating the Lunar New Year will be making their way back home to reunite with their families for the all-important reunion dinner.

Whilst reunion dinners are nothing but pandemonium and always a hotbed for great food, the main draw of such annual events is usually the company where you get to see long lost family members whom you would normally connect only via social media.

Some may dread the very thought of such dinners where you have the extended relatives prying into your social life. But in this day and age with all the hustle and bustle, having family gatherings or reunion dinners is actually a blessing in our busy lives.

I grew up in a very big extended family. My father is the fourth child of 13 siblings. And even as a child, I have vivid memories of being around my relatives. Needless to say, family dinners are always rowdy and chaotic. But amidst the chaos, I feel thankful to call them ‘family’.

Yes, no family is 100% perfect. However, I have come to learn how important such relationships can be. It may not always be easy, but is important in forging that connection.

These days, there is so much focus on careers and raising our own children that we tend to forget how extended families can play a huge impact in our lives as well as our children’s. Instead of just keeping in touch via social media, such reunions solidify the relationships which now seem so distant in many families.

Besides, it is a good habit to pass on the importance of family particularly for young kids. While such reunions are normally fun and games for the children, they indirectly learn about the importance of having a strong family support unit.

They will learn to interact, share and learn about their family history, as well as bond with cousins. Cousins are an important part of our lives. Even if cousins don’t meet often, they are never disconnected and would pick up where they left off.

While reminding everyone the importance of family ties, even those that have gone astray over time, reunions can be an opportunity to solidify boundaries that have been ignored or neglected in the past.

This is the time to strengthen family values and reminisce about the past.

Christmas party
The writer (far left) and her family during last year’s Christmas party. Image: Rita Jong

Perhaps, it was the positive upbringing of our grandparents who instilled among our parents to always put family first, which had rubbed on to my generation of cousins. Hopefully, such values will be continued to the next generation in keeping the traditions alive.

Here’s to wishing you a Happy Chinese New Year and to many more family reunion dinners.

After all, we are all social beings. And food does not only bring us together, but it keeps us together.

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