Preparing for Chinese New Year

35 family members in fun-filled reunion

ST VIDEO: ALPHONSUS CHERN
The Kiews at their West Coast reunion dinner yesterday. The Kiews, spread across three generations, hold a potluck reunion dinner every year at the house of the eldest son, Mr Kiew Tai Wah.
The Kiews at their West Coast reunion dinner yesterday. The Kiews, spread across three generations, hold a potluck reunion dinner every year at the house of the eldest son, Mr Kiew Tai Wah. ST PHOTO: ALPHONSUS CHERN

Three generations of Kiew family continue potluck dinner tradition

About three weeks ago, Ms Kiew Yoke Sim received a message through a specially created WhatsApp chat group.

It stated the time, date and venue of the Kiew family's reunion dinner, followed immediately by: "Just copy n paste your menu below."

And so began a five-day chat between Ms Kiew, 55, and her six sisters-in-law to decide what to cook for the dinner. She has six brothers and two sisters.

Last night, she took stewed mushrooms with pork knuckles, as well as cereal prawns, to her eldest brother's home, to join the line-up of more than eight other dishes prepared by various family members.

After setting the dishes on the table, the housewife, her husband and their three children caught up with the 30 other people at the terraced house in the West Coast area. When dinner time arrived, all 35 people from eight families gathered in the living room to tuck into the festive bounty.

The Kiews, spread across three generations, hold a potluck reunion dinner every year at the house of the eldest son, Mr Kiew Tai Wah.

The event moved to his place after their mother died six years ago. Their father died in 1966. Mr Kiew has an older sister who is 73.

The 68-year-old retiree said splitting the cooking responsibilities between the family members helped simplify the entire event.

After the meal, the children gathered to play and watch TV while the adults mingled over drinks.

Mr Kiew said he had not bothered to decorate the house, save for some pots of orchids, a few couplets on the wall and some ceiling ornaments.


The Kiews at their West Coast reunion dinner yesterday. The Kiews, spread across three generations, hold a potluck reunion dinner every year at the house of the eldest son, Mr Kiew Tai Wah. ST PHOTO: ALPHONSUS CHERN

"I'm a lazy bum," he said with a laugh. Even so, the reunion dinner holds much importance for him. "None of us ever leaves Singapore during this festive season. There is always a lot of eating, joking and laughing," he said.

"It's the unity that my mum nurtured," he added. He said the current adults in the family want to build strong bonds between those in the next generation.

Ms Kiew said she and her brothers do get together sometimes to have tea and catch up, and that the whole family tries to meet on Sundays. But the reunion dinner is by far their biggest gathering of the year.

"Just to see your own relatives, you're very happy," she said. "It's really... a lot of noise but it's so fun."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 28, 2017, with the headline '35 family members in fun-filled reunion'. Print Edition | Subscribe