Friday, December 21, 2012
I was born in a small country bordering the waters of the North Sea. As a young child I came with my parents to the country I now reside in. I can still speak my native tongue but there are few occasions now to speak it any more. My heritage is of a culture that assimilates easily; usually younger immigrants end up marrying a local resident, as I did. Perhaps there are not enough of us to provide a viable pool of potential mates or perhaps it is because as a group we tend to disperse and not live in enclaves or any particular neighbourhood.
But is is often at holiday times that heritage assumes more importance. We remember where we came from. Sometimes it is just in the food that is served at festive meals. Old recipes are dug out of hiding or elder relatives consulted. When we once again sample the favourite, almost forgotten delicacy we inevitably exclaim, "Why don't we eat this more often? Why do we wait for holidays to enjoy . . ." (insert your favourite dish). In the past, out of courtesy, everyone spoke English at family gatherings to accommodate the recent addition to the extended family who could only speak only English. Now the number of unilinguals has increased.
Assimilation, melting pot . . . those are words for the larger world. We adopt and accept the laws of the country we come to, the public customs, the official language and the way the larger institutions like hospitals and schools serve the citizens and residents. But in the small matters, maybe the ones that matter the most, I think it is good to try to preserve a little of your heritage, your past, in whatever way matters the most to you.
Merry Christmas to you in whatever way you celebrate! I will be taking a blog hiatus until the New Year.