Like billions of Chinese worldwide this weekend, I’d hoped to observe Ching Ming (Cantonese), or Qingming (Mandarin), to pay my respects to ancestors by visiting gravesites with family for a bit of spring cleaning, as well as leave offerings of food and drink.
But with the current bird flu scare, travel is noticeably down, while authorities destroyed more than 20,000 birds in live markets, though poultry is still being eaten.
In Chicagoland, most locals now celebrate the holiday in the Chinese section at Mt. Auburn cemetery in southwest suburban Stickney, as I mentioned last year.
I was just leaving Shanghai, my father’s hometown, not that it mattered. My grandparents were once buried in one of the cemeteries that no longer exists, dug up during the Cultural Revolution, now developed into modern high-rises. My uncle’s ashes were buried at sea, which is increasingly preferred.
One consolation: I told my dad I was bringing home not only qing tuanzi, but from Godly. The vegetarian restaurant open since 1922 and recognized for its intangible cultural heritage in China, was once a favorite of his mother, the grandmother I never knew.
My dad said, “What are qing tuanzi?”