I’ve been inspired to share a “few of my favorite things” (which, by the way, one of my favorite movies is the “Sound of Music” with Julie Andrews, a remarkable performer that instantly brought me to tears when I saw her in person last year simply introducing a pianist). My goal is to share a “few” things each week or so that represent a theme of sorts. This week, I’d like to share a few items I have that fit into a Russian Culture theme.
My husband was born and raised in St. Petersburg, Russia until he immigrated to the United States at the age of 7 (specifically, to Brooklyn, NY). He and his parents came with just the boxes they could check and their hope for the better future that America teased with. They moved into a small apartment owned by an Italian immigrant and proceeded to cross-communicate it whatever form of language seemed to get their points across. My husband, DP (as I’ll refer to him), spent the first month crying himself to sleep every night and attempting to learn English with only the basic knowledge of it he had learned in Kindergarten (yes, he was learning English AND German in Kindergarten…sheesh). And ultimately, his parents did give him so many new opportunities thanks to their sacrifice. One of those opportunities ended up being able to meet and marry me, an American-California-born girl. I am so grateful that they brought him to this country and gave us this life.
Personally, I have ALWAYS been fascinated with different cultures and the immigrant history that makes up every American’s self. It’s always fascinating to people from other cultures that America is so fascinated with where our family is from, whether we’re first generation or came here in the 1700s, but it is so important to reflect and respect the struggle and sacrifice that we were born from.
So my “thing” today is a beautiful gift I received from DP’s parents on my 21st birthday, a wooden compact with an etching of a Russian building in the romantic nationalism architectural style (perhaps the Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood in St. Petersburg). I have never used it as a compact because I at once cherished and loved it (beyond what his family ever imagined). It is 100% one of my most cherished items I own mainly because of all it represents. To me, it represents struggle, beauty, and sacrifice, but also reflection (and self-reflection I guess) on what we are all composed of. Instead of keeping it in a purse (where I always break my compacts), I keep it propped up with my other valuable nick-knacks. One day, maybe our children will see a similar reflection of where they came from.
Where is your family from, and how has that changed you?