Written by contributor Jessica Fisher of Life as Mom
When I was studying for my teaching credential, I took a class on Culture. I remember that it was really important to the professor one day that we share our cultural background. Back in the 90’s the focus was on ethnic culture.
Well, my family tree was a hodge-podge of European nationalities that had lived in the US for about 100 years. There was no language, dress, or habits that tied me to my ancestors. I felt bereft of “culture” for a moment.
But then I thought about the concept we were studying. While it has many definitions, culture can be defined as the unifying characteristics of a certain people group. Well, I had that. I belonged to my family.
My parents may not have passed down the language or habits of their forefathers, but we most definitely had a family culture.
In fact, that afternoon in discussing traditions and holidays with my classmates, I found out that there were lots of things about my family, the Getskows, that made us unique, that bonded us together, that were characteristic of my parents and my siblings and me.
No one else in the room had ever heard of feeding ice cubes to their Christmas tree. And painting Christmas cookies with pastry brushes was a new one as well. No one else had retro 1970s Christmas stockings handknit by her granny — or ate See’s candy for breakfast on Christmas morning.
But we did.
Yes, we had culture, alright–it was just unique to my immediate family.
While my professor didn’t totally “get” it, I think I realized a valuable aspect of identifying with one’s culture, whether it be ethnic or just familial.
- It helps you feel a part of something bigger than you.
- It helps you know that you belong.
- It ties one generation to the next.
And so while my children feed the tree ice cubes this year, hang the retro 70s stockings handknit by Nanna, and paint frosting across the tops of cookie cutouts, they’re joining a group, albeit a small group.
They are becoming more a part of our family culture.
And we’re making beautiful memories together.
What quirky holiday traditions are special to your family alone?