We are exploring the seven different elements that make up what we call “culture.”
Growing up, my family didn’t form its identity around a particular culture. My father’s heritage is Puerto Rican, but he was born in New York City. My mother is of German descent, but her immigrant grandparents had placed heavy emphasis on assimilation, thereby minimizing the influence their European culture had on her own youth. Consequently, my ties to my own heritage are negligible. At the end of the day, I am – and always will identify as – a New Yorker.
My husband was born in North Carolina, but was raised in Ohio. Having been here in the United States for several generations, his family’s cultural emphasis was less on country of origin, and more on American pride. He comes from a long line of military men and women, with a strong blue collar work ethic.
My husband and I have raised our sons here in the South. Somewhat to my Yankee chagrin, there is a certain amount of Southern culture that they have absorbed, simply by being here. (The first time they came home from school discussing the reasons that “we lost the civil war” I nearly fell out of my chair.) I do my best to infuse them with my Big City elitism, and their father balances that with his Midwestern down to earth attitude. I wonder, sometimes, what they will think when they look back on their childhoods and consider the cultural legacy we’ve left them, based more on geography than anything else.
The culture of our home has its foundation built on who we are and where we come from, from the time of our birth, not before. I think often about whether this identity is lacking in depth in comparison to those who carry with them the traditions and mores of their ancestors from across the globe.