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February 10, 2016

CNY 2016: Family Blessings

by alive

CNY 2016 Monkey

In 2014, my CNY post was about CNY as a second chance for reflection, to get serious again on your resolutions. I reflected on how quickly and frighteningly easy it is to lose track of time and the goals you want to accomplish.

I encouraged you to do a stocktake, consider contribution, and do new things. I think it’s an article worth reading again and suggest you do that.

 

This year, I’d like to focus on something different : FAMILY.

 

The Dinner

The Reunion Dinner is truly a special institution.

 

The name “Reunion” says it all. It’s a reminder to anyone who may be thinking of skipping out why it’s important. As we get more involved in the practicalities of Life, we risk forgetting the real essentials, and family is one of them. This is especially so after we’ve moved out.

 

It’s such a valuable occasion to have, because it forces you to touch base with your family – especially your parents – regardless of work, studies, business and other distractions in Life.

 

In Singapore, we’re lucky because the small land area of our country means it’s not a lot of time and distance to travel. Compared to my friends who lived in the US or Australia, for example, you don’t need any more than an hour’s commute to see a loved one.

 

More than just getting back together though, the Reunion Dinner always reminds me of the love our parents have for us.

 

The Reunion Dinner is a feast, and it takes WORK. The preparation for this meal is not just in the food prep and cooking, but the long queues for fresh, quality ingredients, braving the throngs with the same idea leading up to the day. The love manifests in the painstaking effort taken to make this gathering as special as possible. There’s not just good food, there’s plenty of it. Every year we suggest cooking fewer meals so mum can work a little less hard, but she doesn’t. She does her best to provide, just like she has all these years.

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The boisterous interaction that happens over dinner cannot be replaced. There is an ineffable quality to live conversation, probably as a result of some things like spontaneity, body language, instant reactions and feedback that you will never ever get otherwise. Certainly not via SMS, whatsapp, and other modern modes.

 

Yet that’s what we do these days. Even a phone call is rare, and that’s a sad thing. I’m glad I visit my family every week or two, but for those who don’t, Reunion Dinner is an anchor, a magnet that will draw them back to the nexus of family ties and bonding. And maybe rekindle the desire in people to do this more frequently. Experience the closeness, the positive vibes, and the love not just once a year!

 

The ‘After Party’

After the dinner, there’s plenty we could do. Games, TV, talk…

 

This year I had a special treat.

 

You know the simple things in Life you don’t appreciate until they’re gone?

 

One of my fondest memories is watching late night wrestling with my Dad and bro.

 

Yes it wasn’t Shakespeare, rocket science, highbrow entertainment, but you know what? Neither is a soccer match. It was something that bonded us together, let us have fun, talk, laugh, and be amused by the antics of the actors/ performers before us.

Wrestling

That’s something we did ever since I was 13, and I could not have realised how much I would miss it until I got married. I never stopped missing those days, or kicking myself for not valuing those experiences the way I should have.

 

 

Even after my divorce, I didn’t get to do it because my visit days are on a night it isn’t showing, and I have to leave early for work the next day. Now for the first time in almost 9 years, I got to experience that again. The magic of the moment, the closeness, the temporary suspension of belief and seriousness, and the licence to be silly and enjoy silliness, with some of the most important people in my Life.

 

It was indeed Happy CNY for me!

 

CNY Family Resolutions

So this CNY, let’s set some resolutions, but specifically on family.

In particular, here are two action steps. Ready?

 

1. Do a Stocktake

Where are you right now?

In terms of your family relationships, is everything the way you would like it? Is there something you need to do? A relationship to mend, or a relationship to end?

Where do you want to go?

What do you see the future of your family to be? If nothing changes about the things you do and the way you do them, for instance, what would happen in 5 years? 10? 20? Is that the vision you have for your family?

 

2. Contribute

Even if you haven’t figured a few things out yet, like how certain relationships go, how you are going to resolve it, or what direction or future you would like your family to have, contribute.

 

Make a point to DO things that are positive and will make a loved one happy, or ease a burden, if even for just a moment. When you make a conscious decision to do this, you’ll be surprised how much you can do, and how they add up. You may have to face the uncomfortable truth that you’ve become so caught up with other facets of Life that you’ve actually contributed little of substance.

 

Some AOKs would get you off to a good start.

 

3. Choose Three Supporting Actions Every Week – Do Them!

 

Once you have 1. and 2. it’s time to nominate three things you can do for either of them.

This shouldn’t take more than five minutes, but doing them might be a different story.

Choose things you can do or start immediately to support either of those two areas.

 

Here’s an example

i) Initiate discussion with wife about family plan for three, five and ten years.

ii) Set dates to visit parents every month, at least twice. Pen them in calendar, do everything to free those days up if necessary

iii) Take wife out for dinner this weekend

 

That’s just for this week though. Repeat this every week! Write them in a diary and you’ll be pleased to see how much you’ve done in a year’s time.

 

Well, time to get cracking again. Till next time!

 

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Giving, Contributing, and a Full Life Part 2: How

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