Mix-up your Multicultural Holidays by Celebrating What’s Different

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This article is part of our Multicultural Holidays series.  You can submit your own story for publishing on Multicultural Familia via our submissions page here.

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We’re Different, We’re the Same

by Jen Marshall Duncan

When my kids were littler, we read this book over and over again. Sometimes we turned the pages looking for noses that looked like the noses of each person in our family. Sometimes we tried to find skin colors that matched the multiple skin colors in our family. Sometimes we just looked for our favorite Sesame Street characters. But one thing we talked about every time we read it was the wonderful message–we’re all the same because we are all human; but we are all different. In my house, we stressed the importance of recognizing that our multicultural family might look different than most other families, but we are still a family like everyone else.

Now that my kids are older, those basic beliefs are challenged on a daily basis by their innate need to fit in with their peers. They want to be the same as their friends. They want to have the same style clothing, the same technological gadgets, listen to the same music, do the same stuff. They try so hard sometimes to be like everyone else, that now we worry they are losing some of what makes us special! At home we no longer talk about the way we are the same as everyone else. Instead, we try to remind them about who they are, where they come from, and what makes us special. Below is a plaque that hangs in my daughters’ room:

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Image: Jen Marshall Duncan

Multicultural Holidays: Celebrating Differences & Similarities

As the holidays approach, it is the perfect time for multicultural families to remember and explore the traditions, heritage, and personal histories that make us unique.  It’s a great time to remind our children that while almost all families celebrate some sort of holiday at this time of year, each family is also different. We can celebrate all of our unique cultural traditions, create new multicultural family celebrations, and remember what makes us all the same, but different.

In our family, we have a mixture of German/Lithuanian and Southern/African-American traditions. Christmas Eve family gifts, sauerkraut and spaetzle mix with black eyed peas, collard greens, and cornbread.

How does your family create a mixture of traditions at the holidays?

 

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Jen Marshall Duncan

Jen Marshall Duncan has been in an interracial relationship for almost 20 years. She and her husband have three biracial children ages 8-12. She lives in a diverse college town in Iowa, and is a high school teacher working with kids who have behavioral issues and/or are at risk of dropping out. Her goal is to spread the power of empathy–recognizing and sharing the feelings of others.
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