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Hamtramck Traditions in Action in P.R. China

Popularity 3Viewed 2165 times 2017-1-16 01:51 |System category:Life| Chinese, Weddings, Hamtramck, Little, Guy

Over the holiday season here in the U.S., my family and I traveled took in part in the ‘U.S. Migrant Worker’ tradition of ‘Heading Home for the Holidays’.  As my wife and I have been doing for over a decade now, we traveled from Chicago, Illinois to Detroit, Michigan to celebrate Christmas at my Mother’s house.  We spent time catching up with the relatives, talking about the various events of the year, watching my children and their American cousins having fun with each other.  As it usually happens, my wife will regale my family with tales of her family in China – with a good deal of curiousness, given the rapid rate of changes that have been reported over the last couple of decades.

 

This year’s topic was the wedding of one of her sister’s in-law relations, and the costs involved with it.  It was funny watching the expressions on their faces as she pulled up her QQ photo page and show page and page of extraordinary extravagance, from the food served to the ‘traditional Chinese dress’ that the bride wore.  The range of emotions, and the questions that were raised for particular photos was amazing.  Some were reminded of my mother’s side of the family, with its link to the ‘five families’ back in New York in the 1st half of the 20th Century.  So it was no surprise to them when it was mentioned the families in question in China were all in the construction business.  My wife sensed this, especially after the question of ‘fat red envelopes’ was raised, and began to talk about other photos that were part of the photo spread – from the wide, well paved roads in the village in question and various ‘public works’ that these two families (new schools, helping with supplemental social support programs, etc.), along with others in GuangDong province have been doing over the last couple of decades.

 

It reminded my relatives on my father’s side of the family of their days involved in the City of Hamtramck, along with 1st half of the 20th Century – and the sayings that have been passed on to this very day.  The first saying was, “Remember You Come From” to which a person that ‘made it in the world’ did not forget the people and places that help shape their fortunes.  The second saying, which amused my wife the first time she hear it, was: “All politicians are crooks; the good ones leave something for the little guy.”  And make no mistake; there is a good deal of work that goes on in the world that is sponsored through government contracts.  So there was a sense of else with my family as my wife progressed through the photos of the lavish affair – knowing that while the family was reveling in the good fortune it had, it was not an obscene attempt to rub their neighbors faces into the ground with it.

 

So… as I was attempting to type this article up, I was a bit amused to see the following thread in the China Daily BBS (http://bbs.chinadaily.com.cn/thread-1878218-1-1.html) and the photo used for the first post (which I am using for this article).  Not going to lie, the issues that have been laid bare by the ‘empty branches’ scenario are leading to some very unscrupulous behavior.  However, it appears that yet again, in attempts to create ‘Harmony’, there is going to be yet another example of actually Harmony being disrupted – much like the great ‘Moral’ attempt to outlaw liquor in the U.S. in 1st Half of the 20th Century, and the disaster that followed in its wake.  As much as the powers to be in Beijing are trying to be ‘All Things for All People’, it very much depends on the tenants laid out by the various successful families in Hamtramck.  Woe be if ‘the little guy’ is squeezed out.


Photo from SherrySongSHSF, from her thread on Chinese Weddings

(Opinions of the writer in this blog don't represent those of China Daily.)


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Comment Comment (3 comments)

Reply Report voice_cd 2017-1-17 08:44
thanks for sharing your story here, we would like to highlight it on the homepage.
Reply Report 1105852048 2017-1-18 03:47
What does 'hamtramck' mean? A city in Michigan or?
Reply Report RKSmith 2017-1-18 07:19
Good old Hamtramck, in the heart of the lovely and beautiful (and sometimes safe) all American city, Detroit. Nice story.

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