Sunday, February 06, 2005

It's Gerald's son's 1st-month cum baptism celebration. The Dept went to lunch at his place to congratulate the new parents and see the kid. We pooled our cash together and with June's help got them some things that we thought might be useful for raising young Ed. It wasn't the plasma screen TV Gerald asked for but it was the best we could do.

This is the 2nd 1st-month celebration I attended in 2 days running. Last night I had dinner at my cousin Raph's house in honour of Rachel, my new niece. Guests included his dad's (my uncle) side of the family and his mom's side. The side I represented, though chronologically more advanced, is curiously devoid of children. Raph's mom's side brought in so many kids we had to be careful where we put our feet to avoid stepping on one or another of them.

What reasons might there be for the disparity? The common factor I observe is in the strength of the matriachal influence on the family. A strong female presence within the extended family unites the disparate members, forcing (in a nice way) siblings, cousins, uncles, aunts together to enjoy common family bonding activities. There is a sense of family support; multiple redundancies -- like the Internet which has rerouting capabilities through damaged parts of its network. There is security in the family community that will continue to provide support for its members even if something untoward should occur to a branch of the family tree.

Also, there is reassurance in being part of a larger whole. Everyone else one is emotionally and physically close to is already establishing a family and having kids, so it's all part of a natural process of family continuity that is easily taken for granted. One cannot have or raise kids in a vacuum.

My extended family is pretty close to each other too, but not THAT close. We've moved away from that kind of communal lifestyle and it's hard for me to imagine doing things like that again. We don't holiday together, or enjoy recreational activities together, or even eat together; we don't spend much of the week together, just perhaps 1 or 2 festival days a year apart from the occasional "hey, Kit's back from England, let's go have dinner," kind of thing. So the family bond is looser.

Having kids -- apart from by 'accident' -- is not really a matter of want or don't want. It's whether having new issue can be supported by one's larger social context. For an extended family group that is already strong and well-established, kids arrive as a matter of course. For family groups with weaker bonds, kids could drive the different members even further apart because the priority is not towards the family but rather towards looking after the individual's immediate interests. Skipping Grandma's birthday dinner because the brat has to go for Chinese tuition, say.

The Appalachian version is a bit extreme, but yes, it's family that breeds family. And having a tough old bird of a Matriarch helps too.

Edit 01:
Chew, my sales rep at Mazda is moving things along for me. He secured my COE bid this month so today I went back to see him again to complete my first payments for my M2. I wrote 4 cheques: 1 for the downpayment balance, 1 to the bank for my 1st installment, 1 to the insurance company for my annual premium, and 1 for the upgrading of the M2's fabric interior to leather. Chew told me my car has already arrived in port. Mazda will close over CNY then on reopening will take two weeks to get it ready to my specifications and by end Feb I should be able to drive it home. Hmm... what does 'expedited' mean?

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