Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Happy new year!

I was going to title this post "The Chinese Marriage Penalty" but after this weekend, I guess it's not all bad. The penalty that I am referring to is the packing of red envelopes with money for unmarried people you know (only those who are younger than you and your spouse, apparently) and the visitation of all your relatives with a bunch of goods. My thought is why be 'punished' because you happened to get married, but now I see it as also a big responsibility -- everyone views you as a true adult now. So many customs that I didn't know about reared their collective ugly heads, but I hope no one got insulted.

At first, I thought that we only had to visit our parents but then my mother mentioned that it would be nice, and her hope, that we would be able to make time to visit all our aunts and uncles. Since my father is the second oldest, all his siblings would go visit him and I thought that would apply to us as well. But it turns out that it goes by rank and we're the lowest on the totem pole (younger generation) so we had to visit Costco many times (the one in Brooklyn was clean out of oranges, tangerines, nicely packaged cookies and chocolates) to get the necessary packages for everyone. There was also an orange shortage this year so we ended up getting tangerines and clementines for people. I've lost count of how much we bought, but thank goodness for bulk goods at Costco!

Going on my memory of my parents receiving a lot of goods and not knowing what to do with all of it, I thought we'd be able to re-gift some of the stuff that people gave us. :P However, our first few visits yielded nothing (again, I didn't know it was a perk of being elder, which we aren't) and we were dangerously low (hence the return trips to Costco). At times, we re-shuffled tangerines from 9 in each bag to 8, to some with just 6 and some clementines. But on Sunday night, after we had made most of our rounds, everyone kept shoving stuff on us and now we have so much chocolate and lots of citrus fruits! We also learned from the out-laws that things should be put in red bags, even if they are advertising some other supermarket, so we had to add to our collection of plastic bags by getting some from them.

The red envelopes were also a learning experience. We got a stack of crisp, new bills through my FIL, who visited a bank in Ctown (I think they only do that for you in Ctown). The money smelled so good (I have a paper addiction) and for some reason Dear found it hilarious to smack me with the wad of new bills. I guess it's the closest we'll get to swimming in piles of money like Uncle Scrooge would do in that Disney cartoon (the stacks of bills we used for the wedding were old bills and dirty). Anyway, we had many discussions on how much to give people. I had heard it is best to give pairs of envelopes so if you're giving someone $10, you give two $5 bills instead. But I had also heard that odd numbers are bad, so I was not sure about putting $5 by its lonesome self in one envelope. My parents believe that ultimately it's OK b/c the end product is even. My FIL prefers to step it up a notch by putting in an extra $1 so that there isn't a lone bill by itself (so it's really $6 in 2 envelopes). Dear, for some reason wanted to have 8s in everything so he wanted to do envelopes of $8, $18, etc. But with an $8 envelope, that would be two $4, 4 being a very bad number.... Aiya! With the exception of 3 people who got odd numbers (they were our first recipients and not very superstitious, I hope), I think we managed OK. The weird thing is that even though we are married, we're not supposed to get any more red envelopes but some people still gave us b/c they are of an older generation, such as our parents, Dear's grandmother, and 2 of our aunts.

So with all this to keep in our head (must go to Costco earlier next year!), I dreaded the visitations but it turned out OK. It was good to catch up with my relatives, most of whom I hadn't seen since the wedding. The aunts that I usually find annoying were more amusing than anything this time. I think with Dear there (he actually LIKES socializing), it made things much easier and somewhat enjoyable. Two highlights that I'll end with: my aunt showed us pictures of her travels to China -- I really want to go to Beijing, Shanghai, and my parents' homeland Hainan now (perhaps for the honeymoon that never was?). My uncle steamed us some buns stuffed with sticky rice -- very interesting and quite good. He also fried up some nian gao (the sticky glutinous cake that gets all sticky and mushy in the middle but crispy on the edges). Yummy! I miss good traditional Chinese food. I haven't had much this year and I crave those yellow cupcake-like thingies.

Happy new year! May you have much golden bacon from this year 4075's pig.

And with the start of a new year (since I am behind based on the Gregorian calendar), what better time to start a new blog. For all the good and bad, this wedding thing is over! Visit me on mokinations.blogspot.com for the next chapters in my life (sorry for the cliche). I may still update this blog occasionally when I come across something really cool, but hello-good-bye for now!

1 comment:

Jackie Vintage Bridal said...

Awww it's a pity this blog is no longer up and running - very informative!