We Carry Smoke and Paper

by Melody S. Gee

A week after my oldest daughter was born, I asked my mom if she wanted to come out for the baby’s one-month celebration. Having only heard about this ceremony, since I neither had one myself nor ever attended one, I asked her, “You know that red egg party for babies? Do you want to do that?” My mom agreed and she and my dad traveled from LA to St. Louis.

My daughter was one month and three days old. She was covered in baby acne, still learning to nurse, and sleeping in forty-five-minute stretches. My mom arrived at my home armed with a printout of a website’s directions on how to conduct a Chinese red egg ceremony. It was written in English. I wondered if she had called her sister, Auntie May, who was eighteen years older and grandmother of twelve. Auntie May was who we called for traditional recipes or instructions on how to set out ancestor offerings correctly on our mantle, who loaded our car with fuzzy melons only she could grow to taste like their childhood.(More …)