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My Big Fat Greek Kids

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Momlogic's Yvette: I'm teaching my kids about our culture.

mother and children

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.

next: Kids' Cookies and Milk: The Healthy Edition
9 comments so far | Post a comment now
Anastasios December 24, 2008, 9:07 AM

Thank you!

Anastasios December 24, 2008, 9:11 AM

Thanks, it was very touching and brings to me very similar memories…

Heidi December 24, 2008, 10:29 AM

Try being the only Jewish family in the middle of Americana - Thank you for this. This is the greatest gift we can give to our kids

Anon December 24, 2008, 10:50 AM

My sibs and I had a similar experience. I am trying to teach my boys what it means to be Italian as well as American. God bless you for giving such a magnificant gift to your kids. Merry Christmas!

Kirstie December 24, 2008, 11:52 AM

Being the child of the child of immigrants, I can tell you you’re doing the best possible thing for your kids. I’m a “mutt”, for lack of a better word, myself - Greek, Scottish, British and Norweigan (with smidgens of Swedish and Irish, to boot!) - and my family has always stressed the culture to me. I didn’t go to Greek school, myself (I was a CCD/ Girl Scouts child myself, although my girl scout troop was IN a greek school), but I can cook up some mean baklava, krumkake or mincemeat and toddies .. we’re a very food-oriented multicultural family =]

MY children will be even more mixed .. my boyfriend is Italian and German!

anon December 24, 2008, 12:24 PM

I am Japanese, Filipino, English, Irish, Scottish, French, Spanish, Native American, and God knows what else. My husband is Mexican and Brazilian, so my son is extremely mixed. It gets harder and harder to keep a lot of the traditions and cultures alive when you are so mixed, but we definitely make the best of it, and we’d rather have a lot of cultural identities than to just be the plain old idea of American. Thank you for your post!

Sophia Curcio December 24, 2008, 1:18 PM

What a beautiful article. An identity and love of culture is the most important thing we can give our kids, so glad to see you are sharing that gift with your kids.

Anonymous December 24, 2008, 2:16 PM

Beautiful. Your ancestors would be proud. I’m going to send this to my grandmother who came over from Italy.

Anonymous December 24, 2008, 9:03 PM

Merry Christmas to you and your family

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