Yesterday was no ordinary day. I was tired like never before because I worked hard to prepare my family Chap Goh Mei lunch.

You could say I was exhausted but it was that kind of day when every bit of energy spent was worth it.

The Liong family seldom holds reunion feasts in the afternoon. We prefer reunion dinners so that there will be ample time for us to hang around and chit-chat as we eat and drink.

Yesterday, however, I had to work so a Chap Goh Mei dinner was totally out of question. Hence, a few days ago, we (my niece, nephew and I) unanimously opted for a Chap Goh Mei lunch.

What is Chap Goh Mei? It is an important festival to signify the end of the Chinese New Year celebrations and in Hokkien, means   the 15th night of the new year.

The Chinese New Year is celebrated for 15 days and just as the eve of the festival is welcomed with a big bang, the climax of the festival is also a grand affair.

 The Chinese celebrate both the eve of the Chinese New Year and Chap Goh Mei with family reunion dinners or lunches.

Yesterday’s Chap Goh Mei lunch was special because it was held in my house. My younger sister flew in from Johor Bahru just in time to join the feast. It has been years since she ate a Chap Goh Mei meal with us.

One of my nephews who grew up in the house decided to join us with his five-year-old twin boys and his wife. It was the first time, also in years, that he ate a Chap Goh Mei meal with us.

My younger sister’s daughter and her boyfriend and my son and daughter-in-law also ate the Chap Goh Mei meal with us.

Because I live alone with my ageing mother, I worked hard whole morning to cook special dishes for the feast.

My son loves Pak Loh Duck (Chinese Braised Duck), my nephew loves Curry Chicken and my younger sister loves Fried Yellow Noodle while my daughter-in-law and niece love Babi Pansuh (Iban-style of cooking pork in bamboo).

Yesterday afternoon, we ate all these dishes and more. My family is a typical Malaysian family, so we eat mostly Malaysian dishes.

My nephew also bought mushroom and curry chicken pies as well as a few bottles of sparkling juice and soft drinks.

Working alone in the kitchen to prepare the special dishes was tiring but the looks on the faces of the young Liong family members as they enjoyed the food made me forget my fatigue.

I was happy when my niece, nephew and son refilled their plates. To a cook, the best compliment is when your guests refill their plates.

Now that  the Chinese New Year celebration is officially over with the Chap Goh Mei lunch, I guess it is time to concentrate on earning a living again.

But I have something to look forward to this year – my family pictures of this year’s Chap Goh Mei lunch.

I know whenever I look at them I will remember the joy and closeness I’ve enjoyed with my family members.