When my husband told me that his mother was planning a reception for our family when we visited China, I had many mixed feelings.
Of course, on one hand, I was extraordinarily flattered. The amount of love Zhenyang’s family has poured out for me was incredible.
On the other hand, I felt a little bit uneasy. My husband had to talk me in to having an actual wedding in the United States. First, I do not like a significant amount of money to be poured out on a single event. When I hear the median cost of weddings, I think about what I could spend the money on instead. Second, I hate being the center of attention. When I think about “the attention being all on the bride” I want to run in the other direction (We ended up having a beautiful, small wedding in the U.S. that I do not regret for a second).
My feelings about the Chinese reception were the same. My husband reminded me that the reception was also about welcoming Alan and about welcoming my husband, who had not been home in 4 years. I felt a little relieved to be reminded that it was less about me than our family as a whole.
We dressed our son in his best suit (well, his only suit). He was ready to be the center of attention. I, on the other hand, was about to be a nervous wreck.
My mother-in-law chose a venue for the wedding that overlooked the river in Shanghai. The city encapsulated us. When it became dark, the buildings lit up splendidly and reflected off of the water.
To make me feel a little more at home, my mother-in-law put a sign up that was half in English and half in Chinese. It was a very thoughtful gesture.
We ate nearly 20 different courses on a rotating table. All of Shanghai’s finest dishes were beautifully plated. I cannot even begin to describe how delicious the food was.
I am embarrassed to admit that a lot of my time at this wonderful ceremony, I was worried about my son. In China, at least in my limited experience, there seems to be less reservation about sharing their joy about babies. This means a lot of holding. Sometimes, I felt like my son was passed around like a hot potato. There were a few moments in the reception where I panicked because I was not sure where my mother-in-law had taken Alan. In the U.S., I find that there is a lot more reservation about holding other people’s children. I was simply not accustomed to being apart from my son for this long.
I thought to myself, all of this wonderful hospitality shown to us, why am I consumed by all of this negativity? It was wonderful to have him be so well received. It all comes down to a deeper issue. How much should I assimilate to a new culture, especially when I am a visitor shown so much love? It is a balance I am still figuring out, and a topic I plan to return to on this blog. However, the reception was absolutely incredible. The night ended when my father-in-law released the balloons into the air.