At Thanksgiving my mother and I pulled out our mah jong table, a table that is likely older than I am, when we learnt that my mother’s youngest sister and my younger cousins didn’t know how to play. I was in shocked into silence.
The revelation that the younger family members didn’t know how to play this traditional game was overwhelming. My parents taught me to play mah jong when I was very young. This game of luck and pattern recognition is as familiar to me as ordering ha gow when we go dim sum. In my mind, like dim sum, mah jong is a cornerstone of the Cantonese culture.
Last week I surprisingly found myself in the position where I was the one demanding for the traditional Chinese New Year dinner. While my extended family had mentioned getting dinner together, no one, none of the adults, actively tried to make plans for this holiday that even other cultures are aware of. I had a Chinese New Year lunch with colleagues in my calendar, the special edition CNY 8-pack on my desk, but no concrete plans for dim sum, pekking duck, or mah jong with family.
I am not okay with this.
We live in an awesome country that is supportive of multiculturalism so why is it that we’re not embracing our culture more?
This instance has opened up my eyes to how we as individuals need to make more of an effort to actively embrace and share our culture with those that share it and even those that don’t – if we don’t, there is opportunity for it to dilute and even disappear.
I’m sorry but while I understand it is a busy time of year for those of us with work, exams, and other extracurriculars but as long as you’re part of my family we’re going to make time for ha gow, mah jong, and the traditional wishes that come with the red pockets.
***Chinese New Year and SB50 ready!