It's the season you have a love-hate relationship with - from the bumper to bumper crawl downtown before the actual new year to the leftovers and bully talk of the sinister aunt - it is Chinese, or rather, Malaysian Chinese at their best. With social media dominating our very lives nowadays, no longer do they need to depend on gossiping for your marital status or annual salary. They rub salt right on the wounds.
"I heard you lost your job? Why's that?"
"You broke up with your girlfriend of 10 years? She's an angel, it's absolutely your loss!"
Nevertheless, the meeting up with old friends, ang pau from generous relatives, and gourmet food that you get to savour only once in a year is like the morphine that saturates one's mesolimbic system urging one to return for more every year.
It is also the time of the year one must watch out for fatigue and overeating from entertaining guests. Add greedy friends inviting you for endless rounds of poker and blackjacks in order to siphon money off your yearly earnings, this can made for a very tiring season.
Anyway, with that in mind, the best way to ward off nasty elements like these would be to practise moderation and learn to say no despite of the odds.
"Eat more, boy! You're too thin!"
"No-lah auntie, It's because I'm sitting right beside you. Heard of Einstein's Theory of Relativity?"
"When are you getting married? You should learn to be responsible now that you have graduated!"
"Oh no auntie, I wouldn't want to rush into a broken marriage like yours. That's why I'm not married yet."
Same rule applies for the friends who boast of their six-figure annual salary and hilltop bungalows. Being about the same age as you, a little sarcasm won't spoil the fun.
"This Alpha Romeo of mine takes only 4 seconds from 0 to 60. I wanted the Ferrari which takes only 3.6, but she is too much of a fuel guzzler."
"I feel bad for the brakes, Penang having a jam every 3 blocks or so. I hope the brakes can get you down from 60 to 0 in 4 secs. I wouldn't like to burn paper money for my friends yet, not when I haven't made my first million."
"Gucci bags are so expensive this year I decided to get Coach."
(singsong voice) "So sad they didn't make First or Business you have to end up in Coach."
With my conversation principle, I can guarantee you'll be guest-free by next year's Chinese New Year. Imagine all the savings you will enjoy - no heart-stopping artery-clogging fat-laden CNY cookies, no mandarine oranges, no guests who overstay their welcome etc.
Last and not least, the festive season is all about family and friends, so don't spoil somebody's fun by showing off your latest gadget from Mars or space-technology suits. After all, they are probably all made in China and nothing to be proud of after 3 months.
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