The first weekend in August my mom’s mom’s side of the family had a family reunion, the Hsu Family Reunion. Now, I am not entirely certain about other Chinese families, but this one is really, really tight and accomplished.
My grandma has quite a few siblings. Those guys mostly all had multiple kids who in turn had multiple kids. We had over 100 people in attendence at the Eaglewood Resort and Spa near Chigago in the town of Itasca. This was the first reunion in about 70 years.
My family came from all over the world (mostly the US, Taiwan, and China but also Switzerland and Vancouver… maybe more). It was awesome meeting everyone. I only wish we actually had more time and more activities that mixed up people so we talked to people who we hadn’t met before. Most of the activities were instead lecture or presentation format leaving little room to mingle. Heck, I brought a couple of card games (Bang! and Munchkin) but never broke them out.
One of the great uncles mentioned that some great philosopher (was it Lau Tsu?) said that we study the art of war so that our children can study the art of governance and that their children can study art. And this is clearly seen in the three generations. The first generation were in the military. A lot of the second generation folk are physicians and engineers, and a lot of my generation are artists.
Made me want to break out the paints and brushes and start doing some art again. Why did I stop for all these years? I dunno. I feel like… what’s the point? But time to put that feeling aside and get inspired again.
Anyway, my grandma (the oldest of her generation) had a bunch of kids. My mom is the oldest of her generation, followed by uncle David. David and his wife Ming-shu had three boys, Leo, Lee-hom, and Lee-kai. (Those in the know, might recognize Lee-hom‘s name.) Leo followed his dad’s footsteps and became a physician. He’s married to another (Stacy), and they have two kids now. (Crazy hectic life, I imagine.)
What’s the point in all this? Leo and Stacy! I love you guys; you’ve taken the pressure away from Robin and me to have kids! Well, pressure coming from grandma, anyway.
I have no idea if Leo and Stacy’s son is considered the top of the 4th generation. This is because I have no idea if grandma is considered the top of hers since maybe her oldest brother is the top. Preference to males and all… which means maybe there wasn’t pressure on Robin and me in the first place in terms of the family line. but whatever.
At one point there was a talent show and Lee-hom sang some songs for us which people were agog over. He’s very talented. I think I don’t quite appreciate how popular he is in Asia… In fact, it kind of takes me by surprise every time I hear about it. He’s a main actor in the next Ang Lee movie, by god (and no, it isn’t Brokeback Huan Shan or anything like that).
What was particularly cool was that our uncle, Li Chien-fu, was also there. He’s the original singer of Dragon’s Descendents back in 1978 or so… you know, that really, really famous Chinese anthem that basically has been adopted by Chinese people around the world as a unifying song… well.. maybe you didn’t know. I didn’t really until the reunion, either, though I’ve heard the song before. Anyway, apparently, Lee-hom covered that song a few years back and even threw in some rapping. Well, they did a duet which seemed like it was a historic occasion. They really should get together and record an official duet of that song. Chien-fu is trying to get back into singing and it would boost his career like crazy, I’m guessing.
Another thing I should mention. Lee-hom and his dad have asked us family members not to post photos or videos of him. That’s fair. We should respect his privacy. One of the reasons Lee-hom doesn’t want videos on You-Tube and stuff is that he has no control over the quality of the videos. I actually think this isn’t that big of a problem if he spent effort on educating people about new media rather than trying to prevent it from happening. In fact, he could probably pull off some rabid fan-base viral marketing type of thing pretty easily. But I’m not sure he’s that internet savvy. No official website, even… Wow. He should get a myspace site at least. Then he could talk about why he doesn’t want speculation stuff on You-Tube and blogs and I bet a lot of his fans would respect that or at least know how to interpret it if it happens. Admittedly, I know *nothing* of the Asian pop-star market so maybe I am just blowing crap…
Anyhooo… Robin and I and my brother Dee and his girlfriend Nancy spent too much time hanging out with each other and not enough time hanging out with the other “kids” from our generation. Sorry. Of note, we have some cousins (er… I dunno what they are technically, the grandchildren of my grandma’s sister) who actually grew up in Palo Alto, like me and my bro. While growing up we would occasionally go and visit their place. It always seemed so foreign though since they spoke Mandarin in the home and the kids were a little young for my brother and I to hang out with. But now they are all grown up and actually quite cool. Word.
Also, another uncle (of some sort) and his family live in Wisconsin. Of note is that he seems to be really into console and table-top gaming. Heh. His son who was 15 wasn’t into meeting the family, though. Ah well… I remember feeling that way when I was a teen, too. Damn our lack of sight. I remember him saying at one point, “Why the hell should I learn Chinese; I will never, ever have to use it.” I find it very funny that a 15 year old knows how the rest of his life will be…
Sooo… all these accomplished folk in my family. I look at my life and have no regrets, yet I am envious that they all seem to have direction…
Lee-kai (who now goes to MIT) was super prescient (and I am reminded by how impressed I was by his intelligence back when he was 5) when he said that as the years go on, the family will naturally drift farther and farther apart. The only way this won’t happen is if we fight it and make a concerted effort to stay in touch. I think it wasn’t clear before the runion why it is so important to do this, but now that I’ve met everyone, I am amazed at how close everyone already is. Having that as a stable force in a life of chaos is totally empowering and something we shouldn’t take for granted… at least, not anymore.