They say you have to take care of your parents when you’re older. I’d assumed that means because old people are frail and mentally not always there, you have to take care of them as they head into that good night. I experienced taking care of the family this holiday, but not in the way I would have expected. Most people characterize holiday gatherings as great and stressful—community, friendship, age-old grudges. The drama grows exponentially as the size of the party grows, and with my family holiday numbering 20-plus people, there are lots of agendas on the table. We’re the type of old, middle class family that doesn’t yell or fight—everything is dangerous and under the surface, like when you deal with people from Shanghai. Incidentally, my great-uncle was the Mayor of Shanghai so I’m abiding by the adage that it’s not racism if it’s your family. We gather every Christmas in Maryland in the US and the groups are shuffled around to various houses depending on who’s hosting what, when, where, and why. Traditions have sprung up over the years and include a new one, the Oyster House Happy Hour, which is a post-Christmas celebration with an open bar for food, drink and merriment where we aren’t dressed in ties and jackets, as we do for Christmas dinner and other holiday celebrations. The happy hour used to be 4pm-6pm, which was highly reasonable, as old people eat and sleep early whilst the younger ones keep it going. Recently it’s been moved to 3pm-5pm, placing it squarely in the dead zone between lunch and dinner. No worries, I thought: we’ll show up at 4pm and as long as we order drinks before 5, we’re golden. 4:15pm comes by and the family descends on the Oyster House 15 deep. We eat oysters and shrimp to our hearts’ content and have a few oyster punches, which are equal parts dark rum, pineapple rum and fruit juice. They taste great and they’re lethal. My sister realizes it’s 4:45 pm. “Three oyster punches per person,” she tells the bartender. He lines them up in rows. Happy holidays. If you’re a regular reader of this column, then you’re my mom (hi, mom!) but even if you’re a semi-regular reader, you’ll know these stories usually end up with me waking up confused the next day somewhere: probably Ikea. Not this time. This time I sipped one of my punches while we cheersed and had drinks and merriment and gave away oysters and punches. 6pm rolled around and we left before the designated drivers became entirely undesignated. Some wine and cheese later and everybody was happily chatting about life, family and such. I found myself in the clutches of the jet lag monster, who cannot be defeated; only appeased. Having just come from Hong Kong to the States, my sister and I retired at 8pm to rest. I had a dream about a clown wearing orange. 2am. I open my eyes to the sound of music blasting. Laughing from downstairs. My sister and I come out of our rooms. What are our cousins doing? Grandmother’s going to be pissed if she wakes up. We walk down the stairs to read them the riot act and instead find my grandmother, mom, uncles and aunts and some neighbors in their 50s dancing, drinking and laughing. “Where are all our cousins?” I asked my mom. “Everybody under 40 went to bed hours ago. You guys are weak.” She laughs at me and my uncles and aunts laugh, too. “Come dance!” grandmother yells. “And get two more glasses of wine.” I meet my friend for coffee the next day. “Are you alright?” he asks me. “I’m getting old,” I tell him. “I can’t party as hard as my grandmother anymore.” Yalun Tu is a columnist for HK Magazine. You can reach him at email@example.com or @yaluntu on Twitter.