February feels like a month in transition. The year is still new, and we also know that it is moving fast, getting into the “meaty” part of the year.
And for a change from all the gloomy economic news that fill the newspapers these days, let’s talk about the good things about this month.
In Asia, Chinese New Year often marks February. In Singapore and Malaysia, we look forward to the long holiday break. My favorite festive food is love letters, a rolled up crispy, creamy cookie, especially ones made the old-fashioned way, on the portable charcoal stove.
Here, in the US, Chinese New Year is not a public holiday, but it marks my February too. The Malaysia Association of Southern California holds a Chinese New Year banquet every year. Malaysians, Singaporeans, Indonesians and those with ties with, or affection for, these countries celebrate together. Every year, we are entertained by a Thai duo who includes Chinese and Malay songs in their repertoire.
And every year, we clap and smile heartily when the band plays the songs “Rasa Sayang” and “Bengawan Solo”. When you are away from home, believe me, these songs have a power of their own and go a long way towards curing some homesickness.
I know many people have become somewhat cynical about Valentine’s Day with all the over-commercialization of the day. Whether one spends the day quietly or in big way, I think it’s still worth to take some time to reflect for a while, not just about romantic love, but for all kinds of love that color our lives.
The love of family and relatives, the love of friends, and the love of our animal companions. Love can be complex, and whenever you love a living thing, you take a chance of sometimes being hurt, or being disappointed. But life would be very bland without all these different kinds of love.
As in the famous quote of Gandhi: “Where there is love there is life.”
Consul General of Malaysia Mr Norman Muhammad celebrates Chinese New Year with the community in Southern California. (photo by Lee M.)
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