Festive friction

Weekend Today, January 29 - 30, 2011, Column, Page T3 (The Fairer Text)
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Source Website: http://www.todayonline.com/Columns/Thefairertext/EDC110129-0000190/Festive-friction
By Georgina Chang, georginac@mediacorp.com.sg, 05:55 AM Jan 29, 2011



PHOTO: What's with all the hating during CNY? This festive business of taking delight at the misfortune of others was open season — anyone who came to visit believed they could (and should) make unsolicited comments about you.
Artwork by YEN YOK, Copyright © MediaCorp Press Ltd
http://imcmsimages.mediacorp.sg/cmsfileserver/showimageCC.aspx?450&302&f=2070&img=2070_336335.jpg&h=450&w=302
Weekend Today, January 29 - 30, 2011, Column, Page T3 (The Fairer Text)



PHOTO: Georgina Chang
The writer is the senior creative director of 987FM and Lush 99.5.

Weekend Today, January 29 - 30, 2011, Column, Page T3 (The Fairer Text)


A time to feast, visit, and be made to feel bad about yourself
I LOVE festive seasons for the atmosphere of abundant food and convivial (Friendly, lively, and enjoyable) fellowship.

However, just as Christmas has become a frenzied rush of buying presents for colleagues you don't really like, Chinese New Year has become the ostentatious (pretentious display) theatrics of projecting false pretences to relatives who don't seem to like you very much.

In this materialistic society, we can't help being self-conscious of our outward appearances. So we need to create a facade of success and contentment. The car, house, gadgets, job and offspring's academic success are indicators to measure how worthy we are.



PHOTO: Chinese New Year has become the ostentatious (pretentious display) theatrics of projecting false pretences to relatives who don't seem to like you very much.
http://ph.88db.com/ph/html/lifestyle/images/beauty/spa-pic1.jpg http://ph.88db.com/ph/html/lifestyle/beauty_spa_massage.htm


Unfortunately, this judgement is according to the people you didn't choose to have in your life, like family and relatives. But their opinions affect us profoundly.

If you thought reckoning only comes after the good life has ceased and the soul has arrived at the Pearly Gates of Heaven, you're wrong.

Reckoning comes at Chinese New Year.

With the steep hike in car prices and home down payments, anyone who's succeeded in acquiring either one is automatically guaranteed an elevated status amongst his cousins.

Growing up, I observed the relentless comparisons of who had more material acquisitions while the less well-off were discussed about in tones of smug (excessive pride) schadenfreude (german word for glee).

This festive business of taking delight at the misfortune of others was open season - anyone who came to visit believed they could (and should) make unsolicited comments about you.

My teenage sister, who had an abundant appreciation of her carbohydrates (and desserts) bore the brunt of it. The relatives were swift to marvel at how big/fat/chubby she had become, as if there was a prize for highlighting her generous girth (a measure around a body).

I was lucky since I was the ugly duckling of the family. My slightest improvements were fawned upon, albeit (although) with pitying nods.

Women get it especially bad at Chinese New Year. For the single woman, there's the inevitable: "Why you don't have a boyfriend?" accompanied by snide (mocking) looks.

If she has a boyfriend: "When are you getting married?" (with disparaging [little value] looks).

If she's married: "When are you going to have kids?" (with black looks).

If she has a daughter: "Why you don't try for a son?" (with disapproving looks).

Never-ending pressure.

I say take the drastic step and shut them up forever. Yes, it's disconcerting when they gasp, chastise you or complain to your parents. But the years of peace and quiet after is worth it.

My 33-year-old friend William was a swinging bachelor, sampling the company of several women. Tired of the badgering (ask repeatedly and annoyingly) on why he wasn't married, he decided to end it by deadpanning: "I have a boyfriend."

He was never harassed again.

Another friend lied tearfully: "My fiance got a 21-year-old pregnant." She enjoyed the awkward silence and averted eye contact for the next few years.

Married couples who try to justify why they're childless - you know, "We like our freedom" or "We prefer dogs" - are frowned upon with great disdain. Try, instead: "My tubes are impaired" or "John has low sperm count". Don't forget to wear a pained expression.

And then there's the hong bao predicament of childless couples. It's unfair that you're forking out your hard -earned cash to other families, and getting nothing back. It's disproportionate, I say.

It's not that you're stingy. It's the whole hassle, right? (Although if you are indeed a married, stingy person, there's no shame in that.)

You have to queue up at the bank for hours to get your stash of new $2 and $10 notes.

Then you have to painstakingly pack these into red packets and remember which ones have $2, $8 or $80.

Then hope that in the melee, you don't accidentally give your boss' kids the $2 hong bao. You won't have a promotion to brag about next year.

Be like my pal Jason who promptly books himself and his wife a relaxing holiday in the Maldives or Mauritius every time CNY rolls round. Now that's your hong bao money well spent.

Chinese New Year should not be about having your self-esteem bashed by insensitive people, or feeling dread about seeing certain members of the family tree, or feeling short-changed.

You shouldn't have to make excuses about your weight gain, lack of boyfriend/children/new car/snazzy job, or feel depressed about what the Chinese astrologists claim will happen in you according to your zodiac sign.

It's about eating too much bak kwa and pineapple tarts, staying up late for card games, and enjoying the comfort, love and laughter of a supportive family. And embracing positive anticipation for the year ahead.

Otherwise, standing in line at the bank just ain't worth it.

By Georgina Chang, georginac@mediacorp.com.sg, 05:55 AM Jan 29, 2011
The writer is the senior creative director of 987FM and Lush 99.5.



PHOTO: You shouldn't have to make excuses about your weight gain, lack of boyfriend/children/new car/snazzy job, or feel depressed
http://i.pbase.com/g6/12/14912/2/83058305.JZunxQMm.jpg
http://www.pbase.com/photozone/image/83058305



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