Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

A TCK Wedding (Third Culture Kids)

Several years ago, back in my earlier blogging years, a Kuwaiti friend, Amer al Hilaliya wrote a wonderful post: I Am a Third Culture Kid, Are You? He never anticipated the result – comment after comment, some short, some a little bitter, some longer and insightful. The Third Culture Kids know who they are, and are eager to share their insights and experiences – but mostly with other Third Culture Kids, who understand.

Others . . . don’t get it.

This weekend, we went to a wonderful Third Culture Kids wedding. It wasn’t billed that way, but it was so thoroughly that way that I couldn’t stop seeing it. It doesn’t hurt that we are reading the seminal work on Third Culture Kids by David C. Pollock and Ruth E Van Renken called, yep, you guessed it, Third Culture Kids.

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It’s almost like reading a whole new book. It has all the Third Culture Kids stories, but has expanded to include third culture kids cousins, like the adult third culture kids, ATCKs (those who have lived a goodly share of their lives in a non-native culture), cross culture adoptees, cross cultural marriages, etc. One of the points they make is that being third culture kids cuts across a lot of boundaries and makes for odd – odd by normal standards – friendships. Once again, across the boundaries – countries, old, young – friendships are determined by a commonality in experiences outside the native culture. It is a fascinating read.

People don’t think of how LONG Florida is, tip to tip, but from Pensacola to Fort Myers is a fuuur piece, as they say, even if it is on an inside curve. Thank God it wasn’t Key West! We thought it would be an eight hour drive, and it turned into thirteen, with heavy traffic from Lake City to Ft Myer.

The wedding was sweet, simple and heart felt. Both sets of parents had done significant missionary work in foreign countries, and the kids were definitely third culture kids. The groom would speak Turkish in his sotto voce asides to his best man, who grew up with him on the streets of Ankara. The bride’s brother read all the greetings and best wishes to the bride from her friends in Hungary – and he read them all in Hungarian.

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Just as the ceremony started, along came a pirate ship! Some things, you just can’t plan, they just happen.

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They all told family stories, and one of them stuck in our hearts because it reflects our own experiences growing up in the Moslem world. The groom, as a young man, came home flustered because a woman on the metro, as he was coming home, noticed he was not wearing an undershirt under his T-shirt, and assumed he was a homeless child. She started talking with all the other passengers, and they marched him off the train to the souks, where they insisted on buying him an undershirt (who knew that you were not properly dressed in Turkey unless you were wearing a sleeveless undershirt?) and also a sweater, to keep him warm on the streets. All this, in spite of the fact that this homeless boy spoke excellent Turkish and kept telling them he had a home! No! No undershirt, he has to be homeless.

Few people in America know the kindnesses we experience living in the Moslem world. It may not always make sense to us – in Tunis, we always wondered if we were getting the annual Eid platter of lamb and couscous showed up because we were thought to be poor or because we were strangers? There has always been a sweetness and generosity to our Moslem neighbors that humbled us. Because of the layering upon layering of these kindnesses, we see Islam, and the Middle East, differently from most of our American friends who have never lived among Moslems. Maybe if we all knew one another a little better, we would have less cause to fear one another, and maybe without all that fear, we could manage a little less hatred.

What is a wedding without babies and children to remind us of the Circle of Life (which AdventureMan calls The Circle of Death). This little one speaks English and Turkish already, and loved the sugar white sands of Ft. Myers Beach and the little seashells, just her size.

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As more and more people cross borders, for work, for play, for marriage, for education, as we live in ‘alien’ cultures and learn other ways of thinking, maybe we are growing into an entire world with a larger viewpoint?

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December 30, 2013 Posted by | Circle of Life and Death, Community, Cross Cultural, Cultural, ExPat Life, Faith, Family Issues, Friends & Friendship, Interconnected, Living Conditions, Marriage, Relationships, Road Trips, Travel | 4 Comments

Ghost of Christmas Past

I remember Thanksgiving. It was yesterday. The season has never gone so fast, with Thanksgiving being so close to Christmas. Taking care of my sweet little granddaughter in the afternoons was a wonderful, quiet interlude in an otherwise swirling-with-events December, complicated by AdventureMan and I both catching terrible colds and lacking energy during the middle part leading up to Christmas.

I wouldn’t pass up the babysitting part for anything. My little granddaughter is the sweetest little baby ever. If she fusses, she doesn’t fuss much, and it is easily covered by “change my diaper” or “feed me” or “I really need to sleep” or I’m bored, walk me around a little until I fall asleep” or “Now I really really need to go to sleep!” Every now and then she fools you with an “I’m too hot! Take some clothes off!” but that makes me laugh, because once you do she is so grateful she just gurgles and coos. She is also beautiful 🙂

We had a wonderful Christmas, colds gone, great houseguests, fun family times, including taking our grandson to his first Nutcracker. Just after Christmas we rushed off to a family wedding in south Florida – a horrid 13 hour drive down – so I grabbed a few Christmas photos before it all gets taken down:

Here’s what I love. We have so many decorations loaded with Christmas baggage – you know the kind. “Oh! We got those candlesticks the year we moved to Wiesbaden!” “Oh! Remember that palm tree from our CENTCOM years?” “Look! Our creche!” “Oh! Our Damascus ornaments!” It is wonderful, and it is time consuming, and with a short Christmas this year, and a lot going on, I did something I have never done before. I saw some ornaments in WalMart, I call them “bang-for-your-buck” ornaments, sparkling snowflakes and stars, 20 for $2.98.

I bought a lot. Maybe about $25 worth. A lot of twinkling little stars and snowflakes.

The tree was all silver balls and silver stars this year, with an ivory cross on top.

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The stairwell was all silver snowflakes. It was magical. It was also quick and easy and inexpensive – I grinned every time I saw it.

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I did pull the Nurnburg angel out; I don’t think I can do Christmas without her and she provided a pop of red against all the greenery and silver and white.

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The little silver reindeer are easy; stored all together in a box that says “Early Christmas” right along with the suction cups that hold them up – if it takes me five minutes, it’s a slow year, LOL.

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December 30, 2013 Posted by | Advent, Arts & Handicrafts, Beauty, Christmas, ExPat Life, Family Issues, Living Conditions, Pensacola, Shopping, Survival | | Leave a comment