Momlogic's Yvette: I'm teaching my kids about our culture.
I always joke that my parents are OTB -- Off The Boat. As a child of immigrants, I spent my youth desperately wanting to fit in, to appear as All-American as possible -- even as my newly transplanted Greek family tried so desperately cling to their roots. I cringed every Wednesday when the other kids went off to CCD or Hebrew School en masse and I was shipped off to Greek School alone. I would have given anything for blonde pigtails and freckles -- but instead I had olive skin and a dark brown Dorothy Hammil do.
I grew up with the mantra of "Marry a Greek" ringing in my ears. Of course, I did exactly the opposite and married the Waspiest WASP I could wrap my olive skinned arms around. Remember, "My Big Fat Greek Wedding?" Well, that's us -- except for the tacky bridesmaids dresses.
For as far back as anyone can remember, my children are the first ones in my family to not have 100% Greek blood coursing through their veins. I love the fact that my kids are Greek and Irish and French and German and English ... they are 100% American. But as much as we have embraced our multi-ethnic DNA and as many times as I have explained what a wonderful melting pot this country is -- I want to make one thing perfectly clear to them. I want them to understand just how important our Greek culture and heritage is as well.
I never imagined that after hating Greek school for so many years, I would find myself interviewing Greek tutors for my own kids. Who would have thought that after praying my mother would send me to school with a peanut butter and fluff sandwich -- I now fill my kids' lunchboxes with things like homemade spanakopita and make souvlaki for dinner? I never imagined how important all of these little things would be to me, but they are. They are incredibly important.
I want my kids to know where our family came from and how they lived. I know how hard my grandfather worked and how hard he struggled to make a new life for his family. I know how hard it was for my grandmother to remain alone in Greece with two children all those years my grandfather couldn't get back because of the war. I still watch as my father tears up every Thanksgiving, remembering how at 12 years old it was the first holiday he celebrated in this country when my grandfather was finally able to bring his family to America.
I want my children to know the traditions and the culture and the language that defined who our ancestors were and therefore, who we are today. I never imagined how how emotional I would get the first time I heard my children recite the Greek alphabet or sing a Greek lullaby.
When I was a child, I wanted desperately to be part of an average America. Now I finally am ... and that makes our Greek culture even more precious.