My first Chinese New Year without my family.

Many of us have experienced holidays spent apart from our families in the past year. Wen Heong writes about her first time spending New Year’s Eve away from her family in Malaysia, and trying to find the positives in this situation.

11th February 2021, the day was Chinese New Year’s Eve in Lunar Calendar. According to the tradition, it’s the day when all the family members gather up and have a big dinner together. We called this the Reunion Dinner.

This was the 20th Chinese New Year in my life, and the first Chinese New Year where I ‘celebrated’ without my family. It was not a bad experience, but no doubt it raised my homesickness.

It was a snowy day in Limerick, but a sunny and warm day in Malaysia. I had video call with my family for a few times, showing them the snows in Limerick, and talked about Chinese New Year. Many pictures were taken when my family were gathered and had dinner together, and the pictures were sent to our family group chat. Yes, I felt extra lonely that day, but seeing the smiles on their faces healed me.

It was a novelty experience to celebrate Chinese New Year virtually like that. Due to the pandemic, I know that many people out there, even when they are in the same country with their families and relatives, they were not able to gather up and spend Chinese New Year’s Eve together. But this would also be a great chance for us to realize that distance is just a number. The virus can never be spread through the screens, but love can.

Time difference could be annoying sometimes, but we learned to accommodate each other. I would wish my family Happy Chinese New Year at 4pm in Ireland, and they would wish me the same thing at 7am in Malaysia.

Thanks to the distance and time difference, I learnt to appreciate the little things in life, and see more than just concrete things.

Everything was not easy to anyone in the past year, and maybe it will not be easier this year. But who knows?

In this moment, we are the youngest version of ourselves in the rest of our lives. So, just love and enjoy the moment as much as we can.

Not to deny, this was the loneliest Chinese New Year I have ever experienced. But at the same time, this was also the most unforgettable Chinese New Year for me. For the first time in my life, I saw snow on Chinese New Year, which is one of the warmest seasons in Malaysia. Interesting enough, and lovely enough.

To 2021, toast for a healthier future!


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