With December being such a family-focused time of year, what with the holidays, I've been thinking a lot about family and traditions, and how much our world is becoming a bigger and bigger melting pot. While Ruby is Asian, she's a mix of two Asian cultures (I'm Thai, and Bob is Korean). She'll hear her grandparents speak in two different languages, she'll learn about two different ethnic traditions, and she'll become familiar with two different kinds of foods—all on top of the American culture we're raising her in and everything else we expose her to.
Since our friends are so multicultural, Ruby's friends are mostly children of mixed race or mixed ethnicity, too. It's funny to think that we rarely meet kids who are 100% of any one background these days. It's amazing and beautiful, and I feel like our generation is the first in which it's becoming more common and more accepted to see such a rainbow of faces. After I posted about Ruby's Dol, a reader recently asked if I would share what we do (or hope to do) in both our marriage and as parents to continue to incorporate our mix of cultures in her life. And, because I'm still figuring out a lot of this myself, I'm always up for being inspired by others. So, I also asked some friends how they mix in their various cultures into their own family. Here's what they, with some of my own thoughts as well…
Bob and I knew it wouldn't be easy to mix our cultures together because we both come from immigrant parents who have strong ties to their roots. It took Bob's parents a really long time to accept me as the non-Korean girl their son was dating.
In the end, they wanted Bob to be happy and accepted me into their family. We had three weddings: one Thai, one Korean, and then our bigger regular wedding. It was a lot of marrying to do, but well worth getting to celebrate in as many ways as possible.
Those who get to travel a lot know how inspiring a trip to another country can be, and how much you can learn and grow by seeing other cultures and watching the way who are part of them live their lives differently than your own. Just imagine how impactful a family trip can be when you're learning about your partner's cultures and where their family is rooted.
The idea of sharing culture through food is a common one that a lot of my friends spoke about. Since I base all of my vacations on where we'll eat, for me, nothing is better than getting to know someone through what they like to eat or what they grew up eating.
Justina and her husband, Jason, both come from English-speaking parents, but I love that they choose to instill a variety of languages and experiences in their little Ida even when they don't have to. Ruby calls water "agua" because she learns Spanish from our nanny, and she knows how to say "open your mouth" in Thai because she's learned it from me saying it to her during meal time. I used to worry that she'd get confused if she knew words in a bunch of different languages, but now I feel as though we should let her soak up whatever she hears and learn whatever comes naturally to her and to our family.
Marriage is a wonderful, yet constantly evolving, process. It's like a plant with ever-changing care instructions, and it needs to be nourished in every phase of its life. So bringing a mix of expectations, languages, foods, and whatever else is involved in having a mixed family, just adds one more thing to the pot. You don't choose who you fall in love with, but you do to nurture what you both bring to the table and be open about letting both sides create the framework for what you become as a couple and as a family.
What do you guys think? If you come from a mixed family, how were various cultures incorporate into how you were raised, or how do you integrate other cultures into your family?
P.S. Thanks so much to my friends pictured above for sharing their words, thoughts, and photos for this post.
P.P.S. Congrats to Anne M. from Red Bank, NJ for being our winner of the Daily Essentials Giveaway. For all readers Of a Kind is offering 20% off anything in their shop. Use code OFAKINDLOVESOHJOY through December 19th.