The question has always stumped me. I have never come up with a really good answer. My whole life, I have always been flummoxed when someone puts me to the task of explaining my family traditions or heritage-related stuff. I guess it is because I wasn’t really raised in any kind of specific, culturally rich atmosphere.
We only spoke one language in my house. I didn’t have a crazy grandmother always yelling things in Greek or Italian or Chinese at me. Don’t get me wrong. I definitely had a crazy grandmother. It’s just that she yelled, “Dammit! Who hid my cigarettes again?” and “Don’t be a beer counter, you little jerk!” in English. Nobody came to America on a boat or was smuggled in a truck (or even flew here on a plane for that matter) for at least a few generations back. We definitely didn’t celebrate any holidays that weren’t pre-marked in red or depicted in the monthly picture on the linen hand towel calendar in the kitchen.
There was always talk that my father’s side of the family was German along with some other Western European sprinkles (French, English) and my mother’s side was similar, minus the German, and somehow plus some Native American. I think that my ancestors have lived on American soil for a really long time, but honestly I’ve never actually entered my credit card information on ancestry.com to confirm or find out otherwise. I don’t know what is true and what is made up. I have always just considered myself kind of a cultural mutt. And I am okay with that.
Until Thanksgiving, that is.
‘Tis the season for unveiling your cultural relevance and family traditions. The friends with whom we will be celebrating Thanksgiving asked how we could incorporate ours with theirs. This year my parents and two of my sisters and their families are going on a cruise in the Carribbean. I was just going to watch football and make stuffing from the box, so… um, just run with yours. Most of my kids are working on homework assignments and projects that involve where they came from and how we as a family celebrate that. I think that the kids are as frustrated about the family void when it comes to this subject as I was, so they are finally employing some creative license to get the job done.
Kid B was given the assignment by her Spanish teacher to make and explain a traditional, cultural recipe as it applies to her family. She asked if she could instead make an old, family dessert recipe* that would represent our heritage, even though it had nothing to do with us maybe being slightly German-English-French-1/16th Cherokee. The teacher said go for it.
So Kid B went to the grocery store and got the ingredients for cookie dough, a box of Oreos, and a brownie kit. She mixed them individually, layered the cookie dough on the bottom, covered it with the Oreos, and then spread the brownie mix on top. And, voila… a batch of “slutty brownies” was made. Yes, that’s really what they are called due to the wicked threesome of ingredients.
So now I guess, traditionally speaking, I can finally say we have a cultural identity. And I am okay with that, although I do hope it translates to something a little nicer in Spanish.
Wish me luck for tomorrow…
*Slutty brownies are not, in fact, any kind of old, family recipe. I have never made them in my life. As far as I know, they started going around the internet a few years ago. They are both easy to make and sinfully delicious. Kid B was just looking for an excuse to make them.