The same excitement. The same faces. The same activities. Some things never change. Or maybe, change comes slowly, gradually- that it is almost unnoticeable. Or do we choose to ignore it?
First of all I must explain that my grandmother has 10 children, meaning my dad has 10 siblings, so imagine how many cousins I have! As sad as I was that two of the families (which my closest cousins are in) weren’t coming back for this Chinese New Year, I must say I was pretty shocked at my own excitement before I went back to my hometown. I was so excited I couldn’t focus during lessons in college!
Two hours of badminton, two reunion dinners, picture session, playing cards (but not gambling) and sparklers, home cooked meals and lots and lots of talking, stories, and quality conversations. Yes, the usual laughter.
But what made this year so different despite this usual tradition of ours was the impact of the stories, how it left not only the younger generation with such awe and inspiration, but also the older generation with more respect and appreciation for each other. The love, the bond, the unity and success- that’s the outcome of the hardships my dad and his 10 siblings went through. With a big family, there’s bound to be many challenges and sacrifices, what more when they were so poor last time. As all the uncles and aunties told their stories, there were all kinds of reactions. Some amazed, some shocked as they just found out things about each other after more than a few decades, most laughing at how ridiculous the stories were, but above all these, everyone was touched. Touched to the extent that it brought moments of silence, warmth, moments where we all lifted our glasses to cheer and show appreciation for someone, and even tears.
It’s so amazing, really, how the moment we get back to our old comfy house in our hometown, my dad and his brothers get to work asap. Despite their age, ranging from 50-70 years old, they work tirelessly to get everything ready. They mop the floor, they cook, they clean, they buy food, they literally do everything. My cousins and I just talk, play and eat, but they do everything. They also have their usual badminton game, and it is so heartbreaking that they give their all but the fact that they’re old limits their agility and movement. They play too well for their age, and watching them play, I just wish that they could run without feeling that ache in every inch of their movement.
Change is indeed happening, and it scares me so much that one day, we all won’t come back. One of my cousin’s has two kids (yes I am already an aunt) and the others are getting married- not surprising as my oldest cousin is 36 years old. There’s already so much to reminisce on, and I can’t imagine how much more there will be as the years go by. I’m more than grateful for my huge family, and amazed at how strong the bond is although we might not know each other that well, personally. Nothing can replace the times we’ve had together, and I wish I could tell the whole world how beautiful my family is. Reunions will always have a place in my heart. Yes, it gets different every year. The difference is so small sometimes that we don’t realize it, we choose not to think about it- but I know for a fact that some things never change. Some things never change.
And I hold on to that.