A Family of Different Cultures
A Very Special Mix
I was first introduced to the idea of other cultures when we moved to California. I worked in a predominantly low-income Black neighborhood - learning firsthand the difference in our worries, struggles, and dreams.
I remember asking a group of pre-teenage girls what their goals for the future were. I was expecting them to say, “Go to school,” “Have a baby,” or “Get a job.” One girl said, “live to be 16 years old” - a valid goalin her neighborhood at the time.
Dan and I were born and raised in the Midwest. Our ancestors immigrated from Europe, mainly England and Germany, but we were born in the United States. Everyone in my neighborhood and in the schools I attended was like me — white.
So, I was an adult before I began to learn and respect the role of culture in a person’s life - and it’s a good thing since our family is multicultural.
My son’s wife was born and raised in Utah and the Mormon culture. They emphasize closely knit family life, prohibitions against alcohol and tobacco, little nightlife, and participation in sports, and genealogy.
She and I have had fascinating conversations about her ancestors and their role in the state’s development. I can tell that family and caring for others are high values for her.
My son-in-law was born and raised in Wuhan, China. He and my daughter have two sons. Before they were married, the three of us talked about issues they might encounter with an intercultural marriage - we missed a few.
Their sons were born in the United States. My older grandson married a woman whose father was American and whose mother immigrated from the Philippines. We recently shared an enjoyable Thanksgiving with them and her family.
My younger grandson married a woman who was born and raised in Montreal. Her father immigrated to Canada from France, and her mother is Canadian. I’m hoping to meet them soon.
I know the Chinese culture fairly well. I visited China with my daughter and son-in-law in March 1989 to meet his parents. They treated us like royalty.
Citizens stared at us - two brown-haired, blue-eyed, white women who looked alike. We were a novelty - some people had never seen anything like us.
One of the most memorable experiences of my life was walking the Great Wall - and looking into what looked like the end of the world - Mongolia. It was a challenging walk even 30 years ago.
His family has since immigrated here; our lives intertwine. We lived next door to them for several years. We celebrate Christmas, birthdays, and the Chinese New Year together. Over the years, I’ve learned about their values, priorities, and beliefs. My son-in-law’s nieces are my adopted granddaughters, and they call me Grandma.
It amazes me that although his parents speak little English, and I speak even less Chinese, we get along and care about each other - checking on each other and enjoying each other’s company.
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