During the first day of the Chinese new year, my family plays host to our extended family and the younger sibling takes the chance to invite friends who don’t celebrate the holiday to give us a break from being besieged by the endless, repetitive questions by misguided relatives.

(The usual; “Where’s your boyfriend? Why don’t you have one? What’s wrong with you? You’re not getting any younger you know… “)

This year, an American colleague of my sister was invited; he arrived late to the party, due to a previous engagement. My sister greeted him at the door, all smiles but noticed in confusion that he was carrying a box of mandarins.

The conversation was as follows:

sister: why are you carrying a box of mandarins?
friend: i thought you told me to bring them? they are for your family.
sister: *confused* i said bring two for my parents!
friend: *bewildered* i thought you meant two for everyone in the family!

(During the Chinese New Year, it’s customary whilst visiting to pay respects to the married elders of the family with two mandarins-  you get a blessing in return in the form of a red packet. And yes, you’re entitled to get it for as long as you’re single.)


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