The Wongs marked their annual ancestral commemorative lunch today. They loaded the dining table with a variety of deep-fried finger foods, and the specialty of the occasion: Shanghainese meat balls with cabbage in gravy. There is a bowl of rice and a glass of beer in front of each place around the table. The places are not for us, but for the departed Wong ancestors. The Wongs individually offer joss at the head of the table, kowtow thrice and pray for continued blessing and protection over the family.
June and I don't participate in the ritual, since our religion doesn't count so much on ancestral support. We're there because it's an event of family significance, so even if we don't pray to the same deity, our togetherness keeps the family bond as strong as ever.
What's good about ceremonies like this is the sense of history and continuity in the family line. It's nice, I guess, knowing that people will still remember us, call us by name and recall how we impacted the lives of those closest to us long after we've gone.
Not so many of us are in that position these days, though. So those of us who don't have much hope in having adoring descendants are going to have to make the most of life while we're still here. Rock on!