Thereâ€™s a scene in this yearâ€™s Chinese New Year video by Sunway that I kept coming back to: The one where the guy was playing mobile games when his grandfather was trying to talk to him (as featured above).
Itâ€™s a scene that I found super relevant not just because itâ€™s something that I see my younger cousins do, but also because itâ€™s something that Iâ€™m guilty of doing too. You can check out the video here:
There is, however, one major difference between how my cousins and I â€œplayâ€ with our phones during Chinese New Year.
I have no doubt that they are glued to their phones because they are genuinely preoccupied with the worlds of PUBG and TikTok. For me, I assume that â€˜emergency positionâ€™ of being busy on my phone to avoid the annoying interrogation sessions that happen every Chinese New Year.
The questions we get asked during Chinese New Year change as we grow older
During this phase, we usually get questions about our studies, eg. â€œHow many Aâ€™s did you get for UPSR/PMR/SPM?â€ For those in college and university, it’s always about our career choice or – for kepoh uncles and aunties – if we’ve started dating.
After entering the workforce
Memories of these questions are probably fresher for most of us – because we just heard them last year.
â€œGot boyfriend or not?â€
â€œWhy till now no boyfriend?â€
â€œYour jobâ€¦ can earn money one ah?â€
Not that I’ve personally experienced this, but I’ve seen it happen to my married cousins.
â€œWhen are you guys going to have kids?â€
â€œ[To the girl] Put on weight already. Second kid on the way ah?â€
â€œWhen are you going to give your parents grandkids?â€
Then thereâ€™s the unsolicited advice, too
Sometimes, answers to unwelcomed questions are followed by equally unwelcomed advice or opinions. I was once told that I wouldnâ€™t be single had I smiled more and stopped working so hard.
I’m pretty sure there are many out there who have had worse said to them. As a result, some of us resort to pretending to be busy; while others even opt out of family gatherings.
But what if all these questions and advice come from a place of care?
It doesnâ€™t sound believable, and Iâ€™d probably share the disbelief if anyone used this reasoning to explain why our elders do what they do.
Until I caught myself asking similar questions, that is.
Thereâ€™s an age gap of 10 years and more between my younger cousins and I. We donâ€™t see each other often – maybe four times a year – and when we do, I struggle to continue our conversations after the first â€œHi, how are youâ€.
Naturally, I used things related to them as conversation starters, like â€œhowâ€™s school?â€ And upon realising that two of them had just received their SPM results, I continued with â€œhow was it?â€ Of course I had to end the conversation with the usual â€œmust study hard and study smart, ok?â€
The point is that perhaps our elders are trying to connect with us by asking about whatâ€™s happening in our lives – and what can be a more universal topic than studies for those who are students; or work for young adults?
Admittedly, some of the ways our older relatives use to show they care may come off the wrong way. Some questions may be too personal; and some advice arenâ€™t tactful. But we can all agree that our elders are not purposely asking or saying things to hurt us – they are merely expressing their care and love for us through questions and advice.
All the questions and advice you get during CNY come from a good place
And you probably won’t realise this until you become one of those uncle or auntie (like me), because you’re the one asking questions now.
Our elders have good intentions, just that these questions and advice arenâ€™t always conveyed in an ideal manner. The least we could do as youngsters is to show them respect, as advised in the Sunway video.
For this Chinese New Year, maybe donâ€™t go into panic mode the moment you see these uncles and aunties. Stow away all unhappy thoughts for a while and put your electronic devices on silent mode. Should an overly personal question or unpleasant advice pop up, we advise that you gently deflect it by commenting on how good the food is.
Happy Chinese New Year from us all!
This article is sponsored by Sunway Group, who would like to encourage everyone to soar to greater heights together.
I have an unhealthy obsession with chocolate, gummy candy, and "Confucius says" jokes.