Saturday, June 25, 2011

Ch'neh Erm

Today someone called me Ch'neh Erm for the first time. Ch'neh Erm in Hokkien means In-Law and is a term used by members of the bride's or groom's family to address the mother-of-the groom or mother-of-the-bride respectively.

The person who addressed me by my new title was the the aunt of my future son-in-law. She is his father's second brother's wife and she came to the house this afternoon bearing gifts in 2 red boxes and a beautiful siah nar (a nyonya carry basket). Accompanying her were her sister-in-law (my future son-in-law's father's younger sister) and my son-in-law-to-be's sister-in-law.

Without my mom and mother-in-law around and having never married any children before (my 'bee is an only child) we had earlier consulted my new ch'neh erm on what is to happen and what we should do. So we took the cue from and just followed the instructions given by her.
  • First we were to receive 2 bottles of wine and return either 2 bottles of F&N Orange or one bottle of wine and one bottle of F&N Orange. We are not wine connoisseurs so we played it safe and just returned 2 bottles of F&N Orange. Both 1.25 litre bottles fitted into the siah nar easily so you can imagine how big the siah nar was.
  • Then we were to receive 12 out of the 24 oranges given. This was easy.
  • When it came to the biscuits we hit a snag. We're told to just take the biscuits on the top layer of the box 'cos the biscuits will be in two layers which are separated by a piece of paper. But in these modern times the biscuits all come pre-packed in small packets and there are no 2 layers! So we consulted the Ah Erm who brought the gifts. She took out four of the 10 packets of one type biscuit and said that we can take those or more if we want to. So we took her cue, and took four packets of each of the four types of biscuits they gave.
  • Then we piled in the 12 kaya paus that they requested for.
  • Then, as instructed, we took half the amount of money inside the angpow for the "too kar" or pig leg. In the past the groom's side will send over the real "too kar" or roasted pig. We wouldn't know what to do with any of those stuff so cash was a good alternative.
  • Then came the angpow for the dowry. We were in a dilemma because we were not told exactly how much we should retain. We were only told to take as much as we want and return some. So how much do we want?
If we take too little, does that mean our daughter is so worthless?
If we take a lot, does that mean we are "selling" our daughter?
Nobody could come up with a satisfactory sum so I prayed
and I had a brainwave that I believe is from God.

For the Christian, a tithe is a recognition of God's ownership
of all of creation and Him as the source of all the bountiful blessings
that He has freely given to us. We have raised, cared for
and loved our daughter and now we are "giving" her
to be a blessing to her new family. I reasoned that like God,
not that we are God, a tithe would acknowledge symbolically
that this blessing they are receiving comes from us. Therefore
I decided to take a tithe, which is 10%, of whatever
the amount is given. Simple.

Thus we dutifully did what we were told to do and, where no guidance was given, did what we thought was right.

Now that the exchange of gifts is over we have to see to the wedding plans. There are only eight more days to the ROM and a fortnight to the solemnization. So little time and so many things to do.


Felicia Boo said...

Hi auntie, this is Felicia. Hahah excited bo? Well I'm sure my mom went through the same thing as you, only thing my grandma (mom's mom) was there to kepo and had a say in everything (good, and bad also) hahaha. Congrats! Hope you're enjoying the process. See you soon. Take care.

Melsong said...

Yes, I am very excited. Enjoying the process and at the same time stressed out like crazy.

See you at the wedding.