The Year of the Rabbit is almost here! No doubt many Chinese are running about making last-minute preparations today.
As is tradition, folks will be travelling en masse to their hometowns to partake in the all-important feast that is the reunion dinner.
Reunion dinners often see different generations and branches of the same family gathering under one roof to enjoy a homely (or extravagant) meal.
While it will be fun to catch up with a favourite family member you haven’t met in ages, some others are less fun to be around.
Here’s a list of some relatives you may be rubbing shoulders with this Chinese New Year eve. What’s your most memorable interaction with them?
1. The gossip monger
“Hey, do you know So-and-So got a super sweet car? Did you read about Princess This-And-That? I think she might be having an affair with Spick-and-Span!”
The Malaysian word for this sort of relative is the apt “Makcik Bawang”, which refers to how folks used to gossip their afternoon away while chopping onions.
As soon as you start up a conversation with this relative, it quickly deviates into delving into other people’s affairs.
While this is one quick way to be caught up to speed on the latest goings-on, not everything they tell you is necessarily accurate.
And there’s always the danger that once you’re out of ear range, you’ll be the subject of their next gossip session!
2. The high flyer
“Look at my house! My house is amazing! Give it a lick! It tastes like raisins!”
This is one relative who struck gold with life and is eager to tell all about it, regardless if anyone is paying attention.
With money lining their pockets, the high flyer is likely to pull up in front of the house in a limousine, often disembarking in a suit that’s probably worth three months of your salary.
If allowed to dominate the table, they will be going on and on about their latest trip to Milan, or about how they bought a new iPhone to replace the one they bought last week.
While not always the case, there is a high chance that despite their talk of wealth and prosperity, their ang pows hardly match up.
3. The very, very, very, very, very, very distant relative
You are fairly certain you are related to this person, biologically at least. But you don’t think you’ve ever seen them in your life before.
Do you even know their name? Or how you are related to them? Both mysteries that will remain undiscovered until the end of time.
Sometimes, no one seems to know who invited them, but they are still family, so it’s only right to welcome them all the same, right?
Oftentimes, this long-lost relative will be amiable enough, but mostly, they’ll just be treating themselves to the packet drinks.
But once dinner is over and done with, they are nowhere to be found and you have to wonder if you imagined them up!
4. The phone addict
Just because you’re having a meal with your family doesn’t mean you enjoy their company. At least, that’s the case for this antisocial relative.
Perhaps they are just very shy or really reclusive, but either way, they have very little to say to anyone at the table.
Even as they eat, most of their attention will be focused on whatever’s happening on their phone screen.
Their eyes rarely leave the screen to the point that when you’re talking to them, eye contact is almost never made.
Perhaps they are fonder of virtual communication than interacting face-to-face. One should know though, to never seat them next to the gossip monger!
5. The conspiracy theorist
Did you know that there is a civilisation of man-sized rats living underneath your feet? Have you heard the Prime Minister is actually three badgers in an oversized suit?
Well, if you’re a reasonably normal person, you haven’t. But for the twitchy conspiracy theorist, all these wacky stories are very real.
You can’t be sure what sites this particular member of the family has been visiting, but you suspect they aren’t exactly the most credible.
Every piece of junk that gets sent their way on WhatsApp is newsworthy, and debunking them will only piss them off further.
It’s best to keep the microphone away from them, otherwise they will be spending the rest of the night droning on about how man-sized rats plan on taking over the world with glowing green cheese.