On the eve of the Chinese New Year, a reunion dinner is held where members of the family, near and far, get together for celebration. The dinner is usually very sumptuous featuring dishes like fish and chicken that the Chinese consider auspicious.
In our family, we always gather at my parent’s home for a nice dinner. I often bring friends home to join us on this annual occasion. We love having guests at our family reunion dinners.
My brother and I slave away in the kitchen all afternoon, cooking up a storm. We usually prepare steamboat and other special dishes. This year’s menu is not out yet but after eating Pencai yesterday, I am inspired to put together a simpler version for our reunion dinner too.
Pencai is a pot of delicacies featuring three layers of goodies - abalone, scallop, prawn, fish maw, dried oyster, chicken and duck meat, pig trotters, goose web, sea cucumber and vegetables - cooked in a rich broth.
Maybe it wasn’t so much the delicious ‘Pencai’ that I had yesterday that made such an impression. It was the wonderful and heart warming experience of sharing a meal with a lovely family….of seeing how cohesive the members are. I could feel the good vibes just being there.
Reunion dinner is not all about the food. It really is an occasion for family members to meet and renew ties. You can see how family members interact with one another or how closely-knit they are through a gathering.
I have seen reunion dinners where members of the family are estranged from one another. The siblings arrive at different time slots to avoid meeting each other. Or they simply don’t show up. And when they do meet, no friendly words are exchanged. Nothing pains the parents more than to see discord amongst the children.
In two week’s time, Chinese around the world would be celebrating the Chinese New Year. I hope everyone will enjoy their family reunion dinner. For some others, I hope they can finally put animosity aside and mend any soured relationships. Make it your resolution to appreciate your family. Learn to forgive or turn over a new leaf if you have to. That would be the most auspicious start to the New Year.