There's an unbelievable amount of stress Chinese families go through this time of the year. The Lunar New Year is without a doubt the most institutionalised Chinese festival in Singapore, observed by almost all Chinese, whether Christian, Buddhist, Taoist or Atheist. Shopping malls, hawker centres, coffee shops and even 7-11s close on Lunar New Year's eve, the night of the reunion dinner.
While the purpose of the reunion dinner is to bring families together for a meal, the contradiction is that its special significance often creates very divisive forces within families. For the normal nuclear family, husband and wife often have to contend with the yearly dilemma of whose family takes precedence; who'll be the filial child and who'll be in danger of being disowned. Snide remarks are passed by parents who feel snubbed that their sons chose the in-laws instead of their own sashimi buffet reunion dinner. Words like "ingrate" hang in the air, and daughters break down in tears, finding themselves unable to be in two places at the same time.
We end up doing one of the following:
<ol style="list-style:lower-alpha;"><li>Attend both dinners. Make an early exit from the first one then rush to the in-laws'. Hope no one notices.</li><li>Alternate reunion dinners. This year at the in-laws', next year at the parents'.</li><li>Go overseas for a short holiday on your own. At least we treat each side with equal disdain.</li></ol>
What did you do this year?

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