Why Spending Chinese New Year With Family Can Be Exhausting (Or How I Ended Up In The Emergency Room) | Speaking of China

15 Responses

  1. Constance - Foreign Sanctuary
    Constance - Foreign Sanctuary March 9, 2015 at 7:20 am | | Reply

    I am so sorry to hear that you ended up in the hospital. The holidays can be tiring if there is a lot of travel, mingling, eating, and socializing involved. I am glad to hear that you are feeling better and doing well.

  2. Cassandra Hafen
    Cassandra Hafen March 9, 2015 at 7:54 am | | Reply

    So sorry to hear of your misery! It definitely sounded like some of my worst Christmases as well. It’s all a combination of factors times the cultural factor. Hopefully, you are on the mend now. I love the travel idea as well, it’s hard to do right now because our children love the holidays and spending it with everyone though so you may want to take advantage of that one while you don’t have kids. I have tried to clear the holiday calendar, no more big projects during holidays etc. -part of it is being a grown-up(blech!) during the holidays. I think that the gifts part would really stress me out because I am not a good gift giver idea person….and at the same time I don’t want to treat the holidays in a materialistic way.I think it’s also rude to expect people to bring you gifts or feel obligated to spend outside their means..I wonder if there is something simpler you could do that reflects the American culture and honors “it’s the thought that counts” …Best Wishes!

  3. Autumn
    Autumn March 9, 2015 at 8:02 am | | Reply

    I am exhausted — and a little sick — just reading about your schedule! The drive alone sounds grueling (also reminds me of driving in Italy, where the lines on the road are but a suggestion and using your turn signal comes under the heading of “giving away information to the enemy”).

    Our life is similar. We live in LA. His family is in Hawaii, mine all over the East Coast. Every holiday involves a visit to one family or another. If we see my family, they badger Andy for hot & sour soup and potstickers. This involves making chicken stock, which can take until midnight. Meanwhile, I’m babysitting for nieces and nephews while making several hundred Christmas cookies or an apple pie.

    Every time we come home, I say, “I need a vacation to recover from my vacation!”

  4. robert
    robert March 9, 2015 at 11:38 am | | Reply

    I’m sorry Chinese New Year left you so exhausted – and I feel even more sorry that you had to spend time in a Chinese hospital. With a few exceptions, regular hospitals are rather terrible places. Hope it wasn’t too bad an experience.

    Personally, I try to shift my holidays whenever possible – work during the holidays when possible and then take the week off after. Less traffic, fewer people, all transportation is much cheaper and the family ain’t so distracted as when everyone else is around. Plus you escape the heavy drinking and smoking.

    @cassandra
    “it’s the thought that counts” – I get the feeling this is not how many Chinese see it. My girlfriend always fears that people may complain when they get the “wrong” gift. Getting any gifts other than fruit and money ain’t easy…

  5. Nicki Chen
    Nicki Chen March 9, 2015 at 12:39 pm | | Reply

    It’s a shame when holidays that are supposed to be fun for everyone just end up stressing us out instead. It happens everywhere, although I think the Chinese customs are particularly extreme. There must be ways to celebrate the true intent of the holiday without letting it snowball into a disaster. I hope you’re feeling better now.

  6. Eileen黃愛玲
    Eileen黃愛玲 March 9, 2015 at 3:20 pm | | Reply

    I am sorry, Jocelyn. 🙁 My husband and I can somewhat relate. I hope you feel better and that you’re relaxing at home in Hangzhou.

  7. Kimberly
    Kimberly March 9, 2015 at 4:29 pm | | Reply

    I’m so sorry to hear that you had such a crappy holiday. I truly hope that you can find rest in the coming days and weeks.

  8. Nathalie
    Nathalie March 9, 2015 at 4:40 pm | | Reply

    So sorry to hear this! What a horrible way to spend your holidays. When you add it all up, though, it makes sense your body shut down. It was just too much!

    I am also an introvert and feel lucky my parents-in-law don’t do the week-long celebration, most likely due to living in Canada. 1 meal is enough for me; there are always way too many dishes to humanely consume! Had I been in your position, I am certain I would also be in the hospital…long before the 5 day mark!

    I remember one day in Shanghai, we were having dinner with my MIL’s family, just after having had lunch with my FIL’s family. Both meals reminded me of the extravagance of The New Year (minus firecrackers but with jetlag). We also had bought presents for everyone, which as you know, is a stress by itself. With second hand smoking and boisturous family members – and alcohol playing a big part in it – I had to step outside a few minutes, in the middle of the meal, for fresh air. I felt so bad; I didn’t want to be rude to anyone but my head felt like it was about to explode. This was just 1 day of celebration!

    All in all, I completely sympathize with you. I really hope you are feeling better now and hope you will get the chance to rest some more.

  9. Marta
    Marta March 9, 2015 at 10:43 pm | | Reply

    Oh my! I hope you are totally recovered now. CNY can be really exhausting and even sickening! This year was fine for me regarding transportation (we took a flight, the airport was not too crowded and the plane left on time! Unbelievable!!) and firecrackers (not too many or at least I didn’t hear them, I slept with earplugs!) but I also got sick thanks to too much food and drinks. I didn’t go to the hospital but I only ate boiled rice for two days hahaha.

  10. Mary
    Mary March 10, 2015 at 4:43 am | | Reply

    Jocelyn! Oh my goodness that sounds horrible I hope you’re feeling better now!

    I can’t even imagine driving in China–and you’re a brave, brave woman to do it. Do you need a special license to drive in China, or does the international drivers license work over there?

    That sounds even MORE stressful than Christmas over here in the states (at least we wrap up the holidays in 2 days, not 7!). I hope you’re back home in Hangzhou and having a proper rest!

  11. Timo
    Timo March 10, 2015 at 7:43 pm | | Reply

    What a shame that the holidays left you so exhausted. Traffic in China is a mess and especially the driving styles are often insane!

    My father-in-law used to be a taxi driver and is now a driver for government body. All those years he has been driving he never had a crash nor a scratch even but as soon as he was let lose on the empty streets of Finland he was lost. Too regulated everything, no one using the horn and and and

  12. Laurie
    Laurie March 12, 2015 at 2:20 am | | Reply

    I feel your pain!! I ended up in the hospital in Changsha with a UTI when we travelled to bring our middle child home… nothing quite like having to do a sterile collection over the oddest bathroom situation I have ever run across – was not expecting a trough of flowing sewage IN a hospital. It ran a close second to trying to explain to our guide what was wrong with me so he could tell the doctor. He was so confused and I just wanted to curl in a ball and expire quietly.

  13. chinaelevatorstories
    chinaelevatorstories March 12, 2015 at 10:27 am | | Reply

    Oh my, that sounds like an awful experience. You really need a break! I hope you’ll get one soon.

  14. Sveta
    Sveta March 17, 2015 at 9:58 am | | Reply

    Wow, sounds like a bad experience, as well as very exhausting both physically and mentally and emotionally. Hope you’ll feel better!

  15. marghini
    marghini March 19, 2015 at 9:33 pm | | Reply

    CNY can be a demanding period, especially when spent in China with a Chinese family!

    I never really experience CNY with a local family as my boyfriend’s relatives always go on trips during that period and they don’t really celebrate it that much (at least compared to what I saw in China Mainland). I would like to experience the real thing sooner or later though!

    Take care Jocelyn and recover soon!

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