Growing up is a complicated thing. There are times when I easily forget that I am no longer sixteen; no longer free from responsibility, constraint and account; no longer a child. But everytime I’m back in Penang, I am exempted from having to assume my role in the adult world, and am allowed, even if only for a brief time, to become a little girl again. I guess that’s the biggest part why I love going home. And home in the midst of festive occasions like Chinese New Year is a triple treat.
Home isn’t just about family. It’s also about friends and old faces you grew up with. It’s also part about meeting up with childhood friends who, like you, have also left the comforts of parents and our own bedrooms to seek bigger things. Learning of their new adventures and stories make only a small portion of the true happiness that is being back home where you truly came from.
In a nutshell, CNY of 2012 had a bit of everything of the above.
I had equal parts family and equal parts friends.
Equal parts boyfriend time, and equal parts sister time. You haven’t bonded until you’ve huddled together in the bedroom, swaddled in as many layers of blankets you can lay your hands on and watch horror movies. Our preferred title: Paranormal Activity. 1, 2, and 3.
It’s all about balance, baby.
The past week has by far been the funnest one I can remember in a long while. Although there were hardly any slow days, I’d give up all my sleep all over again to have another week like that. Hours were fully utilised, well spent either with family or friends. They took turns most graciously, with family taking precedence during the day and friends more than willingly taking the night slots. I can live with a timetable like this.
Especially if they involved birthday surprises in the middle of the night.
Madeline’s birthday unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on how you prefer to look at it) fell on the first day of CNY itself this year, so everyone would not be available to celebrate her special day with her. Tradition made it obligatory for most of us to be home with family for our respective reunion dinners. But we can’t still just let it pass by without so much as a small hoot. It didn’t matter that it was close to 1am before we got to get everyone grouped up. We marched our way into her home, straight into her bedroom to inject some birthday cheer into her night.
Were we mad? Just a little ;]
It worked, to say the least. The poor girl had surrendered to a quiet night in bed on her birthday, to be accompanied by no more than a novel and period cramps. Our plan to all turn her invitations for drinks after dinner down worked to the last ally. She was miserable, believing that none of us bothered to make time for her even on her birthday. It just feels more satisfactory to prove her wrong by showing up the way we did, cake and candles alit in tow =P
The present wasn’t forgotten, if you’re wondering.
It became more important to her than even blowing out the candles!
Don’t mind our bare faces – it was late!
Celebrating her birthday with her became a small celebration for us too. We got to see friends whom we’ve not seen since high school or earlier. And since the stroke of midnight has passed, it also meant we were now in the first day of the new Lunar year. Hello, angpaus! =D
Yes, the average expression that night was that of above, heh.
And multiplied many times more when the birthday shots were brought out!
I think we successfully made her a very happy girl that night, did we not? =)
What a week full of happy times it was. 9 days full of happy times, to be exact. They were speckled with nothing but good food, carefree laughter and lengthy conversations that lasted well into the night. Bliss! My cherry on top of the holiday sundae was the arrival of my most favourite person in the world in my most favourite place in the world.
He had to spend the first few days of the holidays with his Dad, but that didn’t matter so long as I got him for the rest of the week! =D
Now that he was here, my CNY of 2012 was complete.
Over drinks we caught up with old faces we’ve not seen in months.
Say what you will, my favourite pasttimes will always be those times spent along the shores of Penang, enjoying the seabreeze that comes in pleasant drafts combing through our hair.
But even that matters not as much as the people you’re with.
I don’t think I can ever get enough of this place. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again.
This is home. This is where we all came from. This is where we’ll always stay unencumbered and free to do and speak our minds because we are just that close. And for that alone I would drive the three and a half hours back a thousand times.
Heed my words; these people are awesome.
These boys, are a lot of fun.
These girls, are the two best people you can have as friends.
Meshed together, you’ll find yourself the strongest support system in the world, one that isn’t afraid to tell you you’ve gotten fat while at it. What else can a girl ask for?
I am lucky as hell, I know that.
I have everything I could ever want – a beautiful family, the best friends, unspoilt love, endless happiness – and they keep pouring in unrelentlessly. I cannot be more grateful to be at the receiving end of so much blessing. At the same time, I’m not too stupid to think that it will always stay like this.
If it’s one thing I learnt this year, it’s to appreciate what I have before time forces me to appreciate what I had. That basically sums everything I’m trying to say up.
It’s going to be a great year ahead, I know it.
After all, I made sure to toss that yee sang exceptionally high. You never know when you’ll need a bit of good luck.
May this year of the auspicious Water Dragon bring many happy things your way! Eat, drink, and be merry!
Happy Chinese New Year!