You know the drill. In a few days, you’re going to dress up real nice, head out the door and arrive at the doorsteps of relatives that you know next to nothing about. Hell, you don’t even know how you’re connected to them, and you desperately eye your parents for guidance when they start shaking your hand at the door, because you don’t even know what to call them. A few houses later, you’ll give up with the names and titles altogether and just go with — “Hi”, I mean, at least we’re greeting them, right?
If you’re Chinese, you’ll know that there’s no way to avoid home visits. Like it or not, people are going to come over, if not, you’re going over. These relatives come along every year with the CNY package you never ordered.
1. The Annoying Cupids
Once you reach a certain age, almost all the aunties around you turn into your personal Cupid during Chinese New Year. “Where’s your boyfriend? When are you two getting married? Are you planning to have kids soon? You’re getting old, at your age I had 2 sons already.”
It’s worse if you’re single, because they start MATCHMAKING. “I introduce you to my friend’s son, he’s 30 years old, a lawyer, has his own house already!” It gets awfully annoying, not to mention awkward, because once they’ve got their claws on you, the only way to escape is to wait until your parents are ready to leave.
2. The ‘Kiasu’ Uncle/Aunty
I’m sure you know who I’m talking about. That one uncle or aunty, who just won’t stop yapping about how great their kids are… even when you never asked in the first place. The words come completely out of the blue, you may be talking about how fine the weather is, and suddenly…
“Eh! Uncle tell you ah, my son, your age now, he’s studying his masters in UK now! My daughter, 2 years younger than you, she’s training to be Olympian you know! My youngest son! He found the cure for cancer! My dog at home, can fly one!”
Okay, maybe I got a little carried away, but you get what I’m saying. It’s really great that their kids are doing well in life, but when they end the boasting with: “So, you leh? What are you doing now?” with an added smirk… trust me, my palms are itching along with yours too.
3. The Gambling Addicts
YASSSSS. You know it’s not Chinese New Year without the gamblers. They’re the life of the party, and you’ll find a group of them in every house you visit, both old and young. Doesn’t matter if it’s mahjong, poker, deuces, blackjack, or the ever-green chor dai di this group of people will be sitting down and emptying their pockets real quick. Add a couple of beers into the scene, and you’ve got yourself the rowdiest bunch of people you’ll ever see.
Don’t worry if you hear them yelling at each other, trust me, they’re not fighting, it’s just how they bond. There’s usually one among the crowd who loses all his or her money by the end of the day, but that doesn’t stop them from coming back again the next day with more than enough RM1 bills in their wallets.
4. The Eager “Wife/Husband-to-be”
This could be your brother’s, or cousin’s girlfriend, who has the tendency to go a little over-the-top when they’re over for a visit. Eager to flaunt their “wifely material”, you’ll see them all over the place.
They’re either clinging onto your mom, running to get another beer for your dad, or laughing at every single thing you say. It’s nice to see that she’s trying her best to gain the family’s favour, however at one point, it could seem a bit too forced.
Now, boyfriends could get this way too. They’re charming the daylights out of your mom, talking about your dad’s favourite football team, or treating you like his long-lost brother/sister. These situations could go both ways, either you welcome him or her into your family happily, or their overtly-friendly manner grates at you the wrong way and you start noticing large “WARNING” signals.
5. The Food Sampler
Ahh yes, The Food Sampler—one of the most common types of people you’ll see at every house visit. You’d think someone who can pack in so much food would be on the chubbier side, but no, it’s the skinny ones that you have to look out for. They’re like rats.
Maybe it’s in the genes, but this group of people can eat an entire village’s worth of food, and still be hungry for more. You don’t realise it either—one minute your table is filled with goodies, you start reaching out for another piece of bak kwa, and you realise… they’re all gone. G-O-N-E.
You scan the room and the culprit is already moving onto his or her next target, the pineapple tarts, and they’re not stopping there. A couple of houses later, the monster is still chowing down food like a pro. How do they do it? No one really knows.
6. The Little
The demon spawns. The whiners. The criers. The hellions. Now, now, before y’all get defensive—I love kids, I do. I especially love their adorable giggles and chubby cheeks. But when there’s, say, 10 kids in a room—I don’t love them, I wish they would disappear from the face of the earth altogether… just for a little while. Why? They’re everywhere. They’re running all over the place, they’re fighting, they’re crying, they’re drooling all over the food and putting them back when they can’t finish it, they’re just EVERYWHERE.
My heart goes out to all the parents out there with kids aged 10 and below – for when they dirty their fancy suits and dresses the moment they step out of the house door, for spilling another glass of coke on your friend’s white carpet, for when they start slapping your cousin’s 5 year old son, for whenever they turn from angels into little devils – my heart really goes all out to you, more than all the mandarin oranges with my number on them.
7. The ‘No Filter’ Aunty/Uncle
Code red, avoid, avoid, avoid. These aunties and uncles are the ones who would make you squirm on your seat. You can’t help it, they just make you so uncomfortable. They’ve got zero brain filter, so whatever comes to mind ends up coming out of their mouth, no matter how embarrassing it is. Some of my all-time favourite lines include:
“Eh, boy ah, last year not this girlfriend come home with you one leh”
“Aiyo, you see you, no see you one year why suddenly become so round ah?”
“I hear your daddy say you haven’t got a job yet, why ah? I thought you got degree in TEHLORS—eh, Taylors, neh that famous university ah“.
Oh God, I believe you’re cringing along with me too, because these conversations tend to get awkward real fast. Being Asian, we were taught to be non-confrontational, so all we can do is laugh awkwardly and try desperately to change the conversation… and pray. Pray hard.
8. The Karaoke Uncle
To cap my list off, this uncle (usually it’s an uncle) is easily recognisable from his cheery disposition and Rudolph-nose which is just his delayed Asian flush. He knows all the oldies, even some newer stuff (like from the ’90s) and is not shy to show off his amazing range though he’s clearly a baritone. Keep the whisky away from him because he also doubles as the Drunken Politically-charged Rambling Uncle on occasions.
Are you familiar with these 7 types of people during Chinese New Year? Leave us a comment if you feel our pain too!