It may sound strange but I am viewing the approaching Chinese New Year with a mix of apprehension, joy and sadness. It’s going to be the last reunion dinner I am having with my family since I will be tying the knot later this year.
Ever since my father died, reunion dinners have been small affairs for the Mother, Sista and me. Things changed a few years ago when, in a fit of inspiration, I suggested that we get together with my aunt/godmother’s family since theirs was an all-femme do as well. Another aunt and her family decided to join us as well and since then, my reunion dinners have been fun-filled steamboat parties.
It’s probably obvious by now that I am extremely close to my family. We meet regularly and I date my cousins once in a while. I love my nephews and enjoy playing or talking to them. I chat with the Sista on MSN almost everyday and I treat my mother as my equal most of the time. This year, the Sista has decided to go for her honeymoon during the CNY period (to skip handing out red packets) and she won’t be here for the reunion dinner. That makes it doubly sad for me.
It’s not that I don’t like the boyfriend’s family. It’s just that in a way, because I am so attached to my family, I don’t really see my future in-laws as my new, surrogate family. It doesn’t help as well that the boyf is not terribly close to his brothers and we don’t have much in common. There is a gap between us which I am not that keen to close. I, on the other hand, love to integrate him into my large, rowdy Hainanese family because I think they are funny and cool and I want him to know them the way I do.
Maybe this disrespectful or unfillial but the thought of adapting to a new family is just so daunting to me.
Unexpectedly, I am caught up in a conundrum between the new world and the old.
The Mother mentioned the other day that she was a tad disappointed my future in-laws did not seem keen to make her acquaintance. She has seen how my godmother forged friendships with her son-in-law’s family and is keen to do the same.
But as the family of the bride, she cannot make the first move, she said. “I’m already marrying my daughter to them, I shouldn’t be expected to make the first move too. Tradition dictates that the groom’s family respect the bride’s family by making the effort.”
Her move (or the lack of) is also to ensure that I will be treated with respect when I am married.
As a modern girl, I thought it was really quite unnecessary. Afterall, his parents have treated me with nothing but affection all along. But at the same time, I understand her point of view, as outdated as it seems, and I am reluctant to undermine it.
So what’s a girl to do?