Keeping the Family Alive
Dear Mr. Lam,
If I may have a moment of your time, I would like to inform you of my experience with traditions and rituals. Being an American descendant of immigrant parents of the West Indies, coming to America in the late 1970’s, I have always wanted to have an annual family reunion. Being that our family has spread all over the world as the years pass, reunions are very difficult. Since this is the case, I have felt disconnected from my heritage in the Caribbean. Being able to carry on family traditions and rituals will mean part of you and your ancestors will always survive.
I have learned there was a tradition of celebration for the deceased in the West Indies that lasted all day and night. When my father passes away, there was only a small dinner. This tradition has dwindled over the years. I want to have a family reunion, which is a custom in American culture, but my Caribbean heritage does not support it. When you state, “I wish I could assure my mother after she is gone, each morning, I would light incense for her and all the ancestor spirits before her, but I cannot ’’ (Lam 1150). This is only a technicality. However, if the old ritual is too much for you, there are always new traditions that your mother and you can start together, so that her assurance is increase. Furthermore, there should be a need to continue your heritage, in view of the fact that you are of immigrant decent. “It’s kind of like the sower
who cast seed: some get eaten by birds, others land on ground and cannot grow and some take root, only to be choked out by the thorns” (Hogan par .23). As a result, your heritage will not completely disappear or shift into American culture.
As a child, we have Sunday dinners that only immediate family attended. The dinners were very special events with native foods to help connect us to our past. In adulthood the dinners are very few...