642 Days of Writing Day 4: Family

Day 4: Think about your weirdest family member and write one short scene that depicts why he or she is such an oddball.

Warning: the following post is not fiction. It is a cheesy personal reflection of the author’s thoughts.

The prompt asks me to write about a weird member of my family and to demonstrate how they are weird through a single scene. Couple things: a) like a scene could be enough and b) I don’t have a weird member of my family.

Now, statistically speaking, considering thing ‘b,’ it could very well be that I am in fact the weird one in my family. But it seems awfully self centered to write a scene about myself. So I thought I would use this post instead to talk about family; about a yet mentioned thing ‘c.’

I don’t know much about my family.

Presumably, what the prompt was asking for was for me to think about that “crazy uncle” or “wacko grandparent” or “hippie cousin,” and not a member of my immediate family. The problem for me is that I don’t know enough about my distant family to be able to categorize them as ‘weird.’ They are virtual strangers to me.

My mother once told me on a long train ride south in Taiwan that I had 18 cousins. ’18,’ I thought, ‘wow, that’s a lot.’ Of those 18 cousins, I know the names of four—three and a half—oh wait, maybe four and a half. You get the picture. Because my family lived overseas, we did not have big family reunions. I did not grow up with my cousins, and my aunts never came over with gifts. What’s more, my family lived in an English speaking country, my sisters and I went to an American school. The few times we did meet up with other family members, I was unable to communicate with them, language and culture barriers looming high between us.

It makes me sad and a little envious of those who have had their distant family close. It makes me nostalgic for the big families, or as they say in Chinese “三代同堂,” three generations under one roof of my parents’ past.

But it also makes me realize what different shapes and forms family can come in.

As an expat kid growing up in Singapore, my family consisted of the handful Taiwanese families who got together for every holiday to eat far too much food. It was the Jang’s, and the Ngo’s, and the Tsao’s, and the Tsai’s, and the other Lins. The list could go on.

Because we were not blood related, most would describe us as a community, not a family. So I want leave you with something to think about: Is one of the requirements to being family not being able to choose it? And thus why there are weird family member tropes?

Let your brain munch on that.

P.S. So I realize I might have been a little ambitious trying to post something everyday. We’ll call this a Tuesday/Thursday thing I think…


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