Monday, February 6, 2012

Home away from home

Chinese New Year celebrations go on for 15 days in Singapore. The official holidays last for only the first two days but celebrations start a few days before and continue for the rest of the 13 days, albeit in a slightly less intense fashion.

Yesterday (Sunday, 5 February 2012), we had a small gathering at our place with four other families. It was great fun, and I will put up a full post on it soon, after I get through the updates on our trip back to Malaysia.

This year, the first day of the Lunar New Year fell on Monday, 23 January 2012. We needed to be back in Malaysia in time for the traditional reunion dinner on Chinese New Year eve and so did everyone else so we expected the roads to Malaysia to be jammed up over the weekend. We decided to drive up the Friday before, which was a good decision, because it was a very smooth drive. We arrived in time to do some banking, have lunch at our neighbourhood coffeeshop and then we popped by Richard's sister's (Margaret's) house for a bit.

The next day, we lazed about at home. In the evening, we met up with Richard's parents for dinner, together with his sister Mary at Mama Mia Chinese Restaurant in PJ State. Here's Ryan tossing the "yee sang" at the dinner table.

After dinner, everyone adjourned to our place for mahjong and to watch a movie on DVD.

It was interesting to see that Ryan has become quite familiar with our place, even though we only go there a few times a year. He knew where everything was and he was very comfortable there.

Having moved several times, and having once seriously entertained the thought of moving back to Malaysia, we have a lot of stuff packed up in boxes in our place in Malaysia. Mostly knick-knacks, sentimental stuff, display items, photographs, etc. I'm looking forward to the day when we are old and grey, firmly settled down in one place, where we can finally have a place for them to be displayed properly. I love it when I visit someone's home and they display their little treasures, maybe some photographs, some evidence of their travels or their experiences, their interests and hobbies. Of course, it shouldn't feel like a hoarder's den or a museum, I still like lightness and lots of space.

Our place in Singapore is too small for much else other than our books and we are not around often enough in Malaysia to make it worthwhile to have all our stuff displayed in our place there. So, it's more practical to have our stuff boxed up for now. As sentimental as I am about some of these things, I do not like to have too many things around. I do like an almost-minimalist look. Also, these things collect dust!

However, try as we might to keep everything safely stored away till that red letter day, we still end up amassing knick-knacks here and there. We had this cabinet built (in our home in Malaysia) so that we could toss everything inside.

You can see, at the very top, some framed photographs taken when Ryan was still a baby. Below those, is this ceramic photoframe, which was a gift from Mary. We put in a photo of Ryan taken each month from birth till his first birthday.

Our wedding photo, taken in 2001.

Some books, lots of graphic novels.

Richard bought this Bang & Olufsen Beolit radio online, after scouring the internet. He bought two sets, from two different people outside of Singapore, and both were not working. He was undeterred and managed to hunt down an old guy in Singapore to repair them for him. Now, one set is in Singapore and one is here.

A photo taken at our wedding - me, my grandmother and my mother. I wanted to throw this out, because it was so old that the photo has stuck to the glass of the photoframe, but in the end, I just let it be.

There's quite a lot of stuff in the cabinet which we picked up from our travels - this photo below shows a pair of dragon-phoenix vases that we bought in Beijing.

Gifts from friends are also displayed here. These are from Terri. 

At the bottom of the cabinet, you can see a round white bowl. That was a housewarming gift from Sarah for our Singapore house. I felt it was too big to display in our Singapore house without risk that it would be accidentally smashed by either the pets or children, so I carted it back to Malaysia. Somewhere at the top of the cabinet is a pair of jade Chinese guard dogs which Richard's parents bought for us as a housewarming gift for our house in Malaysia.

These are wooden figurines from Sarawak, which are probably as old as I am. My family stayed there for a few years when I was very little.

A lot of the other stuff is from my mother. At this point, I want to pen down a reminder for myself. I end up with a lot of the "Family's Stuff" - you know the stuff that belonged to your parents and which they no longer want but they can't bring themselves to throw out, so suddenly it get labelled as the "Family's Stuff" and they "hand it down" to you as if it was some heirloom? Sometimes they tell you some fantastic story behind it to make it seem precious but actually it's junk to them and they can't really be bothered whether you keep it or not. The important thing is that THEY didn't have to make the decison to throw it out. Oh goodness, I have received a lot of things over the years which hold zero meaning for me but can't throw out. I've even got stuff like old mismatched crockery, old tablecloths and old shawls and cheap souvenirs from places I've never visited.

So, a reminder to Richard and myself - make sure that we take responsibility for our things! If it needs to be thrown out or donated, we should do it ourselves. Some items may be beautiful to us, but much less beautiful to others. If the item has no value or meaning to our children, then we shouldn't be passing it off as a "gift". We would only be placing an emotional burden on our children.

Anyway, back to the here and now. More updates to come about what we got up to in Malaysia over the Chinese New Year break, including what we did on Ryan's 3rd birthday! 


Subscribe to our feed



(function (tos) { window.setInterval(function () { tos = (function (t) { return t[0] == 50 ? (parseInt(t[1]) + 1) + ':00' : (t[1] || '0') + ':' + (parseInt(t[0]) + 10); })(tos.split(':').reverse()); window.pageTracker ? pageTracker._trackEvent('Time', 'Log', tos) : _gaq.push(['_trackEvent', 'Time', 'Log', tos]); }, 10000); })('00');