Monday 31 January 2011


Chinese New Year's (CNY) Reflection

I am feeling rather sad and lousy today. Tomorrow is the eve of Chinese New Year and I still didn't manage to go shopping to buy a set of new clothes and a pair of new shoes for J. Ever since becoming a working mom, I find it hard to find time to go shopping anymore. I do not have the energy nor the time to go shopping alone. And if I bring J along, I might as well not go, as he doesn't have the patience to wait for me to look through things.

Then I remembered the new clothes and socks that my cousin Ai Hoon and my sister Jermaine gave to J, and my face lighted up. J will have a new set of clothes to usher in the new year after all:-) My heart is full of gratefulness for the gift of clothes and socks.

It is a Chinese tradition to buy a set of new clothes and a pair of new shoes for the children to spend Chinese New Year. This tradition came about perhaps because Chinese were, and some still are, poor and thus could only afford a new set of clothes and shoes once a year for the kids.

I remember when I was young, our family was poor, and I was always so excited in anticipation of the coming of Chinese New Year. It's because that was when my mummy would bring me out to choose and buy a new dress and shoes. And those set of clothes and shoes were to last me for the whole year. In those time, my mother could only afford to buy it from the neighbourhoood wet market store (the most down market place you can find in Singapore). Some years I would pester my mummy to buy me more than 1 dress, and she would. I would then have a dress for CNY Day 1, CNY Day 2 and sometimes even CNY Day 3. However, once in a while, we would go to the departmental store at Holland Village Shopping Centre, and during those days, the departmental store was called Emporium 东方百货公司. If I chose to buy a dress from Emporium, I would only get one dress, as it would cost the price of 2-3 dresses from the Holland Drive wet market.

I still looked back with very fond memories of CNY. I hope to be able to impart that to J, thus I was so sad that I didn't manage to buy him a new set of new clothes to start the CNY. My mother always had been able to buy me a new dress and shoes, but she was also a stay-at-home mom back then.

We have since moved up the economic ladder and gotten out of poverty. But looking back, it had done my soul some good to face poverty. A new dress could make my heart and spirit fly so high! I should learn to impose limits on J in similar ways.

But facing poverty back then also did have negative consequences. I attended an elite all-girls primary school. Back in those days in Singapore, there were already a lot of rich elites. My classmates would take expensive holidays and have Barbie dolls and Enid Blyton's story books among their possessions, and they live in houses with their own private swimming pools. I remember telling them that I went swimming at the swimming pool downstairs my place. But what I did not tell them was that it was a public pool that was very near to my place. One day, I decided to tell the full truth. They decided to stop being my friend. For an eight or nine year old girl back then, it was a great blow to my self-esteem.

Today I am proud of my parents and proud of the family God has born me into, although we were poor. But even till today, I still sometimes struggle with mixing with the Singaporean elites. I would run away or escape, or become very quiet in their midst. I don't reach out to them. For to me, they look like those little rich friends and classmates I once had. Memories of how my little rich friends had looked down on me and rejected me still come back to haunt me. I always have a soft heart for the have-nots, and I think this sensitivity that God has given me came from my background.

Seeing how discriminating I am, my Significant Other once wisely said to me, "Everyone is poor in some ways, including the rich, and that we should be kind to them." That made me reflect.

Dear God, this is an area that You have revealed to me that after more than 20+++++ years, I still have not overcome it. Thank you that You are still working in my life. You love everyone and want to reach out to everyone. I acknowledge my inadequacy. By Your Grace, help us to raise J up so that his self-confidence will rest solely on You, that he will have the emotional strength not to fear rejection, to be kind to the Haves and have a soft heart for the less fortunate.

Back to the Chinese New Year and new clothes. I am truly thankful to my cousin and my sister for doing the shopping and giving J the new set of clothes and socks that I fail to do so as a mom for this CNY.

1 comment:

  1. Dear Elaine.. Thanks for being so honest about your childhood and what CNY means to you. Well your dear cousin here have no problems with CNY, my parents were doing well and I even have $200 angpows back in 1980 as a sec 1 student. My classmates visited and my dad gave $10 dollars angpows. I would say i never struggle with money.. but when my dad was struck with stroke.. finance became an issue and there was one cny which i refuse to go visiting bec my brother borrowed from our relatives and went missing..I think everyone will go thru cycles of good and bad times and what is important is that we treasure what we have in the present. We each have our cross to bear and it comes in many forms..I too feel the same way about the elite at times, but really we should treasure moth and rust cannot destroy and store up for ourselves treasures in heaven, when moth and rust do not destroy Matthew 6:19

    It is great that you have a heart for the less privileged.. continue to guide Joshua to share his resources with the less fortunate ones.

    It is my delight to shop for Joshua.:-) Stop feeling bad about not shopping for him.. your effort to give him the best nutrition has far reaching effects than new clothes for him!

    My regret.. this is the first year i am giving angpows and i forgot to prepare one for Joshua..
    I am sure there would be opportunities to give one to him in person..



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