Saturday, February 09, 2008

Holidays and Lies

Holiday time is the time for lies. Everyone wishes each other lots of money in the new year (despite the fact that the average salary raise for Beijing’s IT industry is only 10% and that is to accommodate the recent high inflation) and every dream coming true (when do they ever?). Since the zodiac sign for 2008 is rat, a synonym of the verb “count” in Chinese, half of the group-sent sms greeting messages that I’ve received include the phrase “count (rat) your money until your hands grew weak in the new year!”

Yeah right!

For me, on top of all that, I had to make up a story to innocent friends and relatives that I could not join my family in Hong Kong this time because I could not get my paperwork in place (how could I, a well-organized operations person, have missed his paperwork!). My grandpa yelled over the phone: “What do you mean you are not in Hong Kong? Why don’t you come back to Chengdu then? Next time you have to bring your girlfriend back. No, I don’t want a girlfriend anymore. I want your spouse. Yes, spouse. Girlfriends can disappear the next day, but a spouse will keep you company for a long time. Yes, you have to bring a spouse back next time, before I go visit Buddha.”

Ok ok grandpa, a spouse from me to you next time.

Still, when the fireworks lit up in the sky, all I saw was this beautiful crassness of tradition—a showoff to see which family’s firework shoots up the highest and the noisiest, a trigger of children’s shrill laughter, and the picture frame to preserve many fond memories.

Holidays, despite their wastefulness, are worth the lies.


Anonymous said...

It's funny, I look forward to holidays with a mixture of anticipation and dread. Anticipation to see my relatives and spend time with those I love and who are bound to each other. Dread because of the usual questions for which the truth is insufficient. So we lie and say what is expected, to keep the holidays pleasant and preserve memories of "good times." It's somewhat sad, but I always assumed that not everybody shares the dilemma, that they are honest with their families about who they are. Perhaps not. Does it help to know we all go through this? It at least provides some self-rationalization. So holidays at most, are bittersweet.

Albatross said...

I spent my whole holiday meeting and working -- didn't even have a decent drink.

Beijing Loafer said...

Yes, holidays are like everything else--never perfect, always leaving something to savor.