Published online by Cambridge University Press: 14 April 2022
Grandmothers found/find many ways of making old age enjoyable. They grow scented, flowering plants, indoors and outdoors. They sew and knit. Shopping tests their wits – in the past dealing with street hawkers and market stalls, now online. Home entertainment included playing musical instruments and games of skill, chief amongst them mahjong. Entertainment has expended dramatically in the Reform Era, in the home (television, streaming) and outside; public parks have become places for the ederly to dance, sing and play games.
Gossip was once a mainstay of the life of old women, within the home and in the neighbourhood. In the Mao Era old women were enlisted to watch out for politically incorrect behaviour and to enforce new rules. The advent of modern communications has reduced in-person gossip, but it still has uses, not least in the search for suitable matches for grandchildren.
In the Reform Era the horizons of old people have expanded. They can travel, embark on new careers; those widowed can remarry. Their grandchildren remain the centre of their lives, even if some of the behaviour of modern youth is incomprehensible.
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