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The first thing that comes to my mind when hearing the word celebration is Birthday. When I was little, my parents used to celebrate my birthday in one of my favorite fast-food chains to date, Mc*. We would invite my schoolmates and close relatives to have a kids' party there. I don't really remember the events happening during the party back then, but I'm sure that I was having a lot of fun looking at the pictures my parents took.
As I grow older, I started to learn about the value of money and how someone must work diligently to be able to earn a lot. I don't know how much the kids' party back then cost, but I'm sure it's still a good amount of money, especially if it was invested rather than splurged for events like that.
I remembered telling my parents to no longer hold parties and celebrate my birthday too luxuriously. They were a bit puzzled but after I have a chat with them to explain, they seem to take a liking to the idea.
Since then, there has never been a single birthday cake in my house and we never held any kind of party outside. Instead, we buy 'special occasion foods' like fried noodles, roasted carp, and some local delicacies that we like and have a small feast for the direct family.
The same can't be said for my friends though, especially the girls. I don't know if this is the same in other places, but in my country, whenever a girl turns 17, she will celebrate it at a really big party. Like renting out a whole ballroom and have buffets for every guest. Some even had DJs and use really big dresses (like wedding dresses) for the occasion.
I was really impressed by some of these 'Sweet 17' birthday parties as they have really good stuff on the buffet and the event as a whole was quite an experience.
Another event that just instantly pops up in my head when hearing the word 'celebrate' is Chinese New Year. There is a certain tradition during CNY where an older, married person will give out red envelopes or as we'd call it 'Ang Pao' filled with money to younger, unmarried relatives and children. We'd all gather in the oldest uncle/aunt's home and have a family dinner the night before the celebration or lunch during the day of the celebration.
When I was a kid, I used to get so many Ang Paos but I don't really understand the value of it. Back then, I don't have any use for money so I just gave them to my parents after the whole event ends.
As I grow older, the amount and value of Ang Paos keep decreasing because of some factors. One of which is the older relatives have passed away one by one as they reached the end of their lifeline. Another thing to account for would be the fewer houses we'd visit during the day as we got older and busier.
I remember going to so many distant relative's houses when I was a child as I was still so energetic and excited back then. My parents also have less work and better relationships with other relatives back in the day. But stuff happens and as we'd get busier in the days following Chinese New Year, we decided to not travel too much so we'll still have energy for the day after, which is usually a work/school day.
Another change that will surely happen in the CNY celebration is when the day comes that I get married and have children, I will be the one giving out Ang Paos to my future children, nieces, and younger relatives instead of receiving them.
One last celebration that I'd like to talk about on this occasion is none other than Christmas.
Back in the day, I think of Christmas as an event where I'd get presents from parents, relatives, friends, and churches. I never really thought of the true meaning behind it. I'd just sing a few songs, go to the church, and have a small party (Christmas dinner, exchanging gifts, lighting out candles, etc.)
But now, I've known better of what some would say is the "true essence" of Christmas. Let's just say that it's a sacred day, worthy of celebrations, but we still need to be respectful and meaningful in everything that we do. And I learned that no other gift I receive can ever compare to the one He gave to me and I should be grateful to Him and follow His lead in everything that I do.
These past 2 years, the surge of Covid19 and its multiple variants has caused great havoc in the world. We were told to stay at home as much as we can and to do social distancing and follow the regulations.
Those regulations and rules have made me missed out physically and mentally on a lot of celebrations like Birthdays, Chinese New Year, Graduations, and even Weddings of my close friends and relatives. Most of the celebrations nowadays are done via online meetings and the atmosphere is simply not the same compared to offline celebrations.
I've learned to accept reality and just go with the flow. We might not be able to celebrate with our closest friends, relatives, or even family members, but we must keep the spirit of celebration inside of us and do our best to enjoy life no matter what happens.
On another note, I think that every single person on Earth is waiting patiently and preparing for a global celebration for the day when we are all freed from this annoying virus and can live our lives normally once more. Let's hope that the day will come soon enough.