Multicultural Holidays…

The other day during an Our Space meeting, we were discussing ways to bring the realities of our multicultural, um… culture, to the blog table. For some reason, I rarely think of myself as someone with a strong voice when it comes to multiculturalism. Not being of one hundred percent ethnicity, not being Hispanic, African American or Asian, makes me feel like a minority on the topic. But it’s just not true…

I am what a friend of mine calls a “Polago,” that is, Polish and Italian, half and half. My humble, fair-skinned, light-haired father was a second generation Polish American. My svelte Sophia Loren-like mother was a full blooded Italian American—Sicilian no less. Yeah, they were quite a pair. I can’t share much about the Polish side of the family. There was only my father’s sister left when I was born. She was married to an Irish New York City cop (now there’s a stereotype) and an occasional pierogi was as ethnically inclined as it got when it came to representing their Warsaw roots.

The Italians though, they were all about strutting their cultural stuff. Photos of mom’s clan looked like a scene from “The Sopranos” or “The Godfather.” Dago tees abounded, bare arms reaching across the table for the spaghetti and meatballs, looking for the extra gravy (that’s what real Italians call pasta sauce) everyone talking louder than the next person. Growing up, our Christmas Eve meal was a big fish dinner with a squid sauce tossed with linguini (hey! don’t knock it!), shrimp scampi, baked clams and lasagna. Who has lasagna for Christmas? Italians, that’s who. It all comes down to the food and the cheek pinching and the love.

Our Space Dinner

We are scattered all across the country these days, and – with both of my parents gone – it is hard to bring folks together. Over Thanksgiving, however, I was able to corral a crew of more than 30 of us.

Lots of folks missing from the picture below – but you get the point. It doesn’t matter who you are or where you come from; the memories, the traditions, the food, it’s what bonds you; it’s what makes you family. Just like a lot of other cultures, there is usually some kind of clash happening among the clan. No whacking usually takes place over these issues, but it can get pretty heated- and the strife can go on for years. Silly isn’t it? Nevertheless, this group of Italians were willing to lay down their feuding long enough to come together, say “Mangia” and give thanks. For that and for them, I am truly grateful.

Our Space Italian Christmas

Cover Photo Source: Nicolas Raymond via Flickr

 Jennifer is Director of Content & Ideation at SJG.  I am convinced that every human being is innately creative – Picasso said the key is to remain childlike within the body of a responsible adult, or something along those lines. As the oldest member of this opinionated clan, I feel responsible to share a different perspective. Engage me – I love a good debate!