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What My Mom Taught Me about "Doing Family"

For most traditional Hmong families, “doing family” means coming together to share a feast that we’ve all cooked. “Doing family” is seeing younger nephews and nieces playing and grabbing sodas as they run in and out of the house, grandparents and men gathered in the backyard reminiscing. On the side of the house, aunts and sisters-in-law are washing mustard greens, cilantro and green onions for the next dish, while mothers congregate around big pots set on gas propane tanks. They talk and laugh about the latest gossip as they stir boiling pots of chopped pork. At the same time their daughters are endlessly washing big bowls and double-stacker rice steamers with the water hose. They stand on top of temporary wood pallets with the legs of their pants rolled up to keep from getting wet. This is a common way of gathering in the Hmong community. But was this how you envisioned “doing family”? With my busy schedule, I am beginning to prefer potluck style gatherings with my immediate family only.