Friday, July 3, 2009

Cultural Differences

Going to visit different places is interesting. I love going to other countries and being immersed into a different culture. Learning a new language, customs, and even their religious practices are fascinating. But what strikes me the oddest is discovering the cultural differences in our own country and even in our own family.


I've been married for 15 years now and discover something new about my in laws every time I visit. This week I've ventured out of Dixie-land to north of the Mason-Dixon line into upstate New York. One must clarify upstate as NYC it a totally different culture from those who are upstate. From the outside there are many similarities to the house my husband grew up in and the home I grew up in. We both grew up in small ranch houses that had yards big enough for vegetable gardens and a dog but not necessarily enough hot water for the showers in the morning before school starts. We both have family restaurants that we tend to want to visit on occasion. We also both grew up in the capital city areas of our states (Albany and Atlanta). So there is a definite political feel that you don't get elsewhere in the state (or at least a different political feel).


The differences of course still make me pause even after all these years. First of all my husband's family is Ukrainian. There are several objects (eggs, candles, fabric etc) that are in the home that show this part of their heritage. Along with being Ukrainian they are Ukrainian Catholic. Not an orthodox church but similar in style. Their home has many icons, statues, and religious relics that you just wouldn't find in a southern Protestant home. And finally the main thing that still makes me do a double take is the collection of Gone With the Wind decorative plates that John's mom has in her kitchen. You would think that growing up in Atlanta, I would think this normal and charming. But it just seems so out of place with the picture of The Last Supper hanging next to it, the Pepsi glasses they keep in the kitchen, and the grill in the backyard that they constantly call the barbequer.


Despite the differences, I love coming up here. I love being able to get away from home and going some place that I can also call home. Each year I get more and more comfortable here and I actually miss the crazy aunts and cousins that have embraced me into their family.


We leave tomorrow for New Jersey to visit John's best friend since Kindergarten and his best man from our wedding. I know that at the end of that visit I'll still be awed at the Jersey hairstyles and crazy crossroads they have where you can't turn left. And even though they'll be so many differences between us, I know that we'll find something in common that will link us.


This is the best thing about Cultural differences. Whether its God or love or business or family, there is almost always common ground and those are the places where we can discover a home away from home.


Until Everyone Hears,

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