This is an original family photo, circa 1940.
Hard to believe, isn't it?
I mean, considering we had to leave all of our worldly possessions behind in Cuba, especially family photos.
But this little guy made the cut.
I think now that my mom would have brought him in her suitcase, if that would have been possible.
It is obviously some sort of Chinese lion-dragon-dog. With one paw poised on a round ball. Which is supposed to be maybe the earth? Don't know. Not a clue. But we did have a fun name for it. At least we just thought it was fun to say.
My mom has always called it a "moringa." (MO-REEN-GAH)
So, obviously, we called it that, too. Without questioning it's source or reason for being in our home.
In these days of insta-information, I Googled moringa and found it is a tree found in tropical climates. And an herb with some medicinal properties. Nothing about a lucky-Chinese-lion-dragon-dog. Hmm. . .
I can only assume that my mom, who is super inventive (still!) just liked the sound of the word.
As long as I can remember, we always had some version of this creature in our living room.
As long as I can remember.
And I can remember pretty far back.
When we were little, it was used as a sort of boogie-man. We were threatened with the thing coming to life and biting us if we didn't clean our plates. Much more compelling than the starving-kids-on-the-other-side-of-the-world threat. And looking at it from a positive standpoint, having been raised in a superstitious Cuban household gives me an endless supply of phobias to discuss with my therapist. ;-)
My mom still has one in her living room. Come to think of it, it's quite big, too.
It stands about 20 inches tall. And is almost pretty. In a scary lion-dragon-dog sort of way.
I still steer clear of the thing. You can't take too many chances with moringas.
But it's really supposed to be all about magically bringing good luck.
And as I've pointed out before, we Cubans are a superstitious bunch.
Well, technically, I would argue that I am no longer bound by such ridiculous superstitions.
After all, Moringa is not even the thing's real name!
Yet, a few months ago when we were in Las Vegas, I was surprised and amused to find a familiar figure guarding the doors to our hotel.
Well, to be honest, I didn't get too close.
How I have managed to grow up to be a functioning adult is beyond me.
I use the term functioning loosely here.
Yes, okay. Maybe the word adult, too. =D
UPDATE: They are called Imperial Guardian Lions or Foo Dogs. Thanks, Alison!
Foo Dogs?? Really. But Moringa is so much more fun to say. =D