Expressions of love
“Chinese families know how to love fiercely. They do it through immense generosity, unwavering loyalty, and a lot of food. We love differently, not better, not worse, but definitely different.” (Dailylife, 2014)
I read this this morning and really related to it. Thinking about my immediate family and extended family, I have been brought up in an environment where I was constantly showed affection through meal times. When I was sad as a little girl, my mom would take me in the car to the McDonalds closeby and get ice cream. She would get her strawberry sundae while I would have a classic vanilla ice cream cone. That was her attempt to show her love for me and make me feel better. It is the same with my dad even until now. When I am back from the states for a summer break, I would notice lychee juice in the fridge and ice cream in the freezer. Sometimes, love can be relatively subtle in my family. My grandparent’s way of expressing love is through cooking 5 hours long meals for the family. Even though my grandma is not around now, I still remember vividly coming home to my grandmother in the kitchen in her sarung stirring the pot of chicken curry, the maid chopping away onions while my grandpa would occasionally check on the food (sometimes justifying tasting it!).
I must admit, having experience the western culture of showing affection has changed my expectations and expression of love. Sometimes, I would go to my grandpa and give him the biggest hug and kiss on his cheek. He is always bashful about it but I think he enjoys it. I sometimes notice some jealousy of my american friend’s families’ way of showing affection. They give lots of kisses, constantly reminding each other of love for one another and very verbal when they are worried.
I do wonder which expression of love means more to me and I think I am realizing that my family is as affectionate as my american friends’. It is very easy to forget that behaviors such as constantly checking on me (sometimes my mom would call me 10 times a day), pestering me to eat fish, not asking how is your day rather have you eaten are acts of care and love.
Love in my family is not explicit, it is quiet and subtle. And it definitely involves a lot of food.