There are several "Chinese etiquette" that always amused and exasperated me. One is the fight to foot the bill after a family dinner, and the other, usually preceding the fight, is the debate and consultation between various members present on how each should address the other. As I was growing up, many times I am introduced to membes of my maternal family, most of whom have migrated to America and I have never seen before. Grandpa would carefully lay out the relationship, whether it is the daughter of a cousin or the cousin of an aunt, there is a proper title by which I would address them. That has to be figured and agreed on before the conversation continues and the meal is served. Quite the contrast with the simplified aunty and uncle most adopt these days. It was not infrequent that I wonder how and why people keep track of these things.
Today, grandpa pulled out this thick volume from the shelf and I saw, for the first time, my maternal family tree stretching back 20 generations. Though being female and 族谱 being a relic of the male adoring China society, there will never be more than a mention of my name and who, if any, I am married to, the book awed me. It recorded the life and connections of hundreds of people, who may have never and will never meet. Sadly, since my grandpa has no male grandchild, with my uncle's passing his line will be noted with a small 止, indicating the end of the 王 line there. He lamented that us, the next generation, knows nothing, much less practice this tradition anymore.
To that, I could only nod mutely and solemnly, at a loss of what to say.