Expat Story: A Different Chinese New Year

Marking one year not returning home aka first time celebrating Chinese New Year (CNY) overseas. No reunion dinner, no new clothes, no visitations… initially! To be honest, I had no plans on how am I gonna spend time during CNY since I am pretty stuck in Singapore, not able to go home for celebration. However, kudos to my cousins and friends, they actually made initiatives to meet up for lunches and dinners. For that, I am beyond grateful. Not to mention, one of my friends purposely drove me some cookies and tarts right before CNY. What have I done to deserve this! *Crying inside

Ended work prolly 3pm during eve, rushed home to change before eating out. Oriental restaurants in Singapore were either fully booked or mainly closed. We managed to have dinner in a German bar with delightful pork ribs and barramundi. Eating out in an occidental restaurant without parents during CNY eve indeed feels very different. We used to gather to cook and eat together for many years, so much laughter in the house. Sitting in the bus on the journey back home while thinking how others spending time with their families, I had never felt such empty in my life.

Video-called parents first thing in the morning after washed up during Chu Yi (1st day of CNY). Chit chatted quite a bit, as it was their very first time spending CNY without us (me and my brother). Was invited to one of my friend’s house for lunch. We did potluck. All of us are expats working in Singapore, despite meeting them the very first time, we got bonded quickly. We had fun playing board games and pokers. We stayed for the day, spending quality time with my friend’s aunt and herself. Feel so good to have such good host to cater us, feeding us with good food. We left for the day with stomach full of food.

Visited another friend’s house during Chu Er (2nd day of CNY). The husband and herself even prepped us lunch. She texted me few days beforehand, asking if I have any plans, otherwise I can pay them a visit and have lunch together! Got to meet a new friend, eating themed doughnuts, and of course having steamboat together. Left for dinner with le cousins thereafter. Made reservation a month ago, since social distancing required with limited slots in a restaurant. We managed to video-call our families in every corner of the world. We greeted and sent our regards before eating. Despite being thousand miles away, it’s nice seeing everyone enjoying themselves and in good shape. It was a decent dinner, having Lohei together, checking in to see how everyone is doing, especially during this pandemic.

Met secondary school friends on Chu San (3rd day of CNY) aka Valentine’s day! Glad to hear everyone is doing fine, with one of us just got married and had job change; another one got his PR status of late. It’s always good to hear good news as it somehow motivates me to work harder, in achieving my goals while my friends are working hard for theirs too! All of us have not been returning home for a year, and God knows when would be the next time we meeting our families…

Writing this to remind how blessed I am. Have been telling my parents that despite not able to return home, I am doing very fine with friends making me feel like home overseas. Handwritten letter, handmade cookies, visitations, red packets (it’s a blessing!), lunches and dinners, CNY goodies etc., it makes me feel like I am not alone overseas.

It is a very different Chinese New Year to most of us. Not able to travel home, seeing each other via Zoom calls, limited visitations and so. However, without my knowing, God actually sends more people to me. Look forward to the day I am able to do more for them, my turn to host them in future! Happy Niu Year all !

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s