Jocelyn, I think its great you were brave and went ahead and appeased the cultural divide by participating in such a wedding [as described in the post A Big, Fat, Traditional Chinese Wedding?]. I’m sure your husband was appreciative. I would have been scared too. This type of thing always makes me wonder though about cultural traditions. Do we not have any in the U.S? Seems like we are always the ones conforming to appease a tradition that must be greater than our own? Is it because we just don’t value tradition as much?
I’m not saying its bad, I still commend you but when I read the answer and they said its not about you, it’s about the family I know a lot of girls who would of said GTH. It’s my day. hmm
It’s true that my wedding wasn’t just about me, but the family — and that required concessions.
But, in fact, I wasn’t the only one giving. I designed my own dresses. I chose the flowers and the food. I requested what was, for China, an unorthodox approach to photography — having the photographer follow us all day and take a mixture of candid and posed pictures. I even decided on the after-party event — karaoke.
Still, maybe that sounds paltry in comparison. After all, a bride from the US would see the wedding as “her day” and, therefore, any compromise is unthinkable. Fair enough.
But, see, the wedding is only part of the story between me and John’s family. Maybe I gave more in the balance of the wedding — maybe I was the one who conformed more to them. Yet, they’ve done far, far more in return, just to accommodate me and welcome me to the family.
I think of the first time I ever met them — months after John’s father declared that “you can be friends with a foreign woman, but not date her.” I expected a reception as chilly as the biting February winds outside. But, oh, how wrong I was. His family, who had never had any need for home plumbing in their entire lives, suddenly installed a flush toilet weeks before my arrival. Wow.
John’s family isn’t vegan, but I am. Sure, they gave me the usual “do you get enough nutrition” questions in the beginning. Yet, even from that first visit, they offered a dish after sumptuous dish of delectable vegan foods. Now, every time I come, John’s mom cooks up so many vegan delicacies I can’t even finish! She stir-fries eggplant and tomato just for me, which is a very un-Chinese combination. She even went out of her way to make two foods in the summer that aren’t summer foods at all — migu, a type of local dumpling, and pickled radishes — just because I said I loved them so much.
But the most drastic accommodation of all has to be the new wing his family built. They didn’t have to build it — didn’t John and I always used to stay in his old bedroom? Still, maybe they suffered to see me suffering from allergies to the dust and mold that settled in John’s room. They even installed air conditioning (which they NEVER use), and made my bed with a soft comforter for a mattress, instead of the cold, hard bamboo mats that hurt my back.
When you have that kind of family support, I think they’re worth a few concessions — even on a wedding day.
What do you think?
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