Wednesday, January 6, 2010

The Roots are Just as Important as the Flower

I remember being a little kid and my grandmother from my mother's side stayed with us for quite awhile. She would wake up early and sit in the rocking chair that my father made her and watch us get ready for school. When we would get home there was almost always a warm batch of fresh german rye bread made from scratch by a recipe that she had memorized. She was fluent in "old German" and we would sit and talk back and forth as we were learning the language in school. My grandmother made her own noodles, made magnificent quilts, and made almost everything she wore by her own hand. I look back on that now and admire that she was able to do all of those things. I want to someday be able to teach my children the importance of these things and where they come from.

My husband made a short list for the new year too.  The number one thing on his list is learning a new language.  He has a dream that he, Conner, and I will someday become fluent in German and travel to Germany able to communicate with the locals and appriciate the culture.  I am three quarters German and Dave is about a quarter German.  I am a third generation American and would love to learn where my family came from.  We would love for our son to grow up learning two languages and to go on in life understanding his roots and the culture from which he was raised.  Being in the United States I think we tend to let go a bit of our traditions and fall into the melting pot.  I have always thought it was sad that our different cultures blend and with each generation the line becomes more and more blurred between who our families were and who they are now.  We want to change that in our family by bringing back some of the traditions that our great grandparents celebrated and a huge part of that, we believe, is the language. 

So with that I want to ask my readers if you have integrated a second language into your families and if so, how did it work for you.  Do you follow any traditions from your ethnicity and culture that differ from the mainstream American?  Do you think that your children understand and value the things that you are teaching them?  Please share with me your thoughts and practices.



Reyna said...

My grandfather is 100% Italian, his parents were from Sicily, and I love the entire Italian culture. I love seeing the serious-faced mafia-style photos of my great-grandfather and hearing stories about them from my grandmother. One story was about how my grandfather's parents didn't approve of my grandmother because she wasn't full Italian or Catholic. This caused major issues, but in the end love won and my grandfather married her anyway...and went to a LUTHERAN (gasp!) church!! If I ever were to travel abroad, Italy is where I would go. And if I've also thought about learning Italian but just never got around to it. It's fun learning about where we came from!! :)

Pinner1 said...

Reyna, I had no idea that you were so Italian! How intersting. Imagine going back to Sicily with your kids and learning about where your family comes from and why they came to the US, wouldn't that be a trip!

I bet your grandparents were the talk of the town in their day ;)

Thank you for sharng!

Alone in Holy Land said...

First of all, we live in Israel, not America but I think my comment is subject related anyway.
We were born in Romania, but both my husbands' parents were Hungarians, and I come from a Romanian/Hungarian/Polish family. My husband is Jewish, I am Christian and although sometimes it is hard for me here, especially during holidays, I don't give up the traditions I brought with me from Romania.
At home, we speak Romanian, but our daughter Maya started kindergarten in fall, so she's fluent in Hebrew, also.I read her Romanian and Hebrew story books and I try to combine the two cultures, traditions, systems of beliefs...Sometimes is easier, but, believe me, sometimes is hard. Israelis are very different from us, especially the ones with a Sephardic origin.
Anyhow, life goes on, but I miss my homeland very much...
My best,

NewlyParents said...

I am half Italian and half French. My parents have passed down some of the language but most of it has been forgotten through the generations.

I would still love to take my family to Italy and France one day but to be fluent I'd have to take a class :)

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