Two weeks before my father’s wedding, his mother tells him: “You know, we’d really prefer if you’d marry someone Chinese.” Flash forward about 26 years. My parents are still married, and my sister and I are the living products of an Asian guy/white girl couple (yes, my dad was pimp enough to get a white girl). So, what happened to my Chinese grandparents’ expectation for their number one son to maintain their proud Chinese traditions?
Perhaps some tradition was lost. The family poem made from the names of progeny from each new generation died with my generation. I hated dim sum growing up. Up until three years ago I had never been to mainland China. My first language is English and I’m struggling to learn Mandarin to fit in with my girlfriend’s family.
Maybe what my Chinese grandparents feared at the time of my parents’ wedding was the threat that they’d lose their place in life without tradition. See: title. For what they knew, following the Chinese tradition likely entailed a happy lifestyle. I’m not sure how it happened, but ultimately, what I think both sides of the family have come to realize is that tradition is just a means toward happiness. What really mattered was whether or not the new generation was happy.
Whatever lost in tradition was made up in family unity. Polish side and Chinese side attend horse races… Chinese side gambles big. Polish and Chinese sing Christmas carols on Christmas Eve… Chinese play on piano and violin. It sometimes feels as though the family forgets that they even came together through my parents– as they make plans without my mother and father. On Tuesdays, Chinese aunt and cousins meet with Polish great-grandmother for lunch and visit the city library for new books.
I like to think that both parties have together made a hybrid culture. I try not to forget where both parties have come from because everyone’s family story would probably make a delicious day-time drama. But really, the underlying reason is to appreciate where we are today. The recent ‘pilgrimage’ to China shows that the Lo family in China of wife #6 is of course distinctly different than the Lo family of wife #5 in US. Maybe geographic distances play a big role in the harmonization between families. I pray that the great Pacific ocean won’t make things too messy for my girlfriend’s Taiwanese family with my own California one, and I remain optimistic that technology will ease the future mess.
But if legitimacy of the family lineage is an issue, note that the Museum of Macao has decided to include my generation in their permanent collection.
PeterLo is a hapa Chinese-Polish boy with a tiny bit of Iroquois Indian in him. When not reading Asian American blogs, he spends his time dancing and DJ’ing K-Pop and Western Top 40 in the Bay area. You can ‘like’ him on facebook at www.facebook.com/djpeterlo.