Friday, February 16, 2007

Bring on the Red Packets

In a traditional Chinese family, family hierarchy is valued highly, held almost sacrosanct in some ultra-conservative households, especially during the more essential family gatherings such as weddings and funerals. Everyone from the decrepit white-haired centenarian tottering on her cane to the naive toddler sucking his thumb knows their place in the larger scheme of things, their exact position down the family pecking order. A little hard to steal up the ranks of family without upsetting an elder or two.

This year however I find myself unenviably catapulted to the position of banker. Not in the God of Gamblers mahjong or card games sense of course ( although I get stuck in that role sometimes too ). Each year during the Chinese New Year, my octogenarian grandmother nominates an unfortunate chap - usually the eldest singleton - to take charge of her coveted red packets. Of course the singled out chap usually ends up the target of petty hate-crimes by most of the younger unmarried folks since the banker - like the proverbial Santa - finally decides the exact amount that goes into each red packet, depending on who's been naughty or nice.

Grandmother : This year you come back?
Paul : You don't want me back?
Grandmother : Still no girl? Not married?
Paul : You could import a few Vietnamese brides to cook and clean for me.
Grandmother : Find yourself you must. Old I am. *cough cough* Not long to live, want to see you married.
Paul : That's what you've been saying for the past ten years.
Grandmother : Hmph. This year ang pow you give.
Paul : Me?

Okay. I adlibbed the shades of Yoda with a pathetic off-the-sampan immigrant Chinese accent. In real life, my indomitable grandmother doesn't sound anything like a decrepit old woman and would be insulted at any such insinuation.

Man on a mission

*evil smirk* But the important thing is this year, I have the power! And I'll be handing out red packets in my New year best - though not necessarily in dashingly wicked black since it smacks of bad luck!

By Chinese tradition, it's unlikely that I'll ever be the one doling out red packets - no matter how much I'd enjoy the giving - since it seems even more unlikely that gay marriage would be accepted into the vaunted constitution. Not to mention that I can imagine how Charming Calvin would balk at throwing away money, especially with his current financial crises. Unfortunately ( or fortunately depending ) due to some ancient unclarified taboo, unmarried folk simply don't go around handing out red packets.

Maybe I'll give myself a few more crisp notes for being such a good, good boy this year. At least it will distract me from pelted questions on my perpetual bachelorhood.

Of course ang pows aren't the only things I am giving out this year. The infamous Lucrezia Borgia is also getting some homemade arrowroot chips from me this year ( unless Charming Calvin finishes the lot on the way home ).


matrianklw said...

I never knew it was tradition that grandmothers pick the eldest male grandchild to fill up the red packets! I've been doing it for years and now I know why!

Gee, if I would've known earlier that we had the freedom to put how much, my nasty little cousins wouldn't even be receiving any! LOL.

Well, Happy Chinese New Year to you, or shall I say, Gong Xi Gong Xi! Have fun handing out the red packets!

William said...

My late grandma did it all herself.

"Get your grubby hands away from my hard-earned cash!"


Jemima said...

Gong Xi Fa Cai! :)


Gong Xi Fa Cai, Paul!

jase said...

Remember to pack away some for us too. So that when we come visit you, you can pass them out to us! :p

snowdrop said...

happy new year! gong xi fa chai!

Holden said...

Happy CNY Paul!

goodshithappens said...

happy cny to you too paul!!

wow you actually get to give out red packets for your grandmother! what a kick. i hope that will stop people from asking about marriage because that will sticking a red packet into their faces will probably just shut them up. haha

hrugaar said...

Love the yoda-grandma, heh. She give you a fixed sum to share out among everyone, or a blank cheque? (heheh)

Well, guess it's one way to get your younger male relatives pressing you for a bulging packet, paul. ;oP

strapping.shane said...

Where's the angpow for the little godbrother - me? =P

Annie said...

Oh my my.. so I shouldn't wear black clothing to my Chinese Sister-in-law's that I'm visiting this Sunday? I didn't know it's bad luck. What color should I wear?

and don't be stingy Paul, send some of those red packets to America.

closetalk said...

granma sounds adorable. happy busy post-vdaty to u n calvin :)

savante said...

Nah, matt. Not really a tradition but I'm the eldest singleton. And also a doctor mah. Kononnya responsible.

But I'm responsible, william!

Same to ya, jemima and shah!

Not married, jase, so no ang pow for you.

Do I get red packets from you, cheh cheh?

Happy CNY to you too, holden and goodshithappens.

Usually it's a fixed sum, ru. But I'm sure it'll be balanced a little heavily on my side this year :P

Not married so no angpow, shane.

On no account do you wear black, anniiiieieieeee.... lotsa red and gold would be nice.

Same to ya, closetalk!