See if you can relate. Having grown up Greek in America meant:
….as a child your parents forced you to offer your cheeks for sloppy kisses from relatives you hardly knew, some of whom rarely spoke a word of English. Somehow, though, you knew what they were saying about you when this took place.
…..Thanksgiving dinner may have consisted of the customary turkey and mashed potatoes, but there was always a plate of spanakopita, pastitso, or dolmades right next to it. And along with the pumpkin pie, there was a huge Pyrex dish full of of galatoboureko.
…..also at Thanksgiving, as a Baby Boomer Greek American you got a puzzled look on your face when your mom, in an attempt at being a thoroughly modern American, would present the family with her own variety of jello salad. How did this happen?
…. Easter dinner always started with everyone staring down at a plate with a single blood-red dyed egg sitting atop a donut-shaped koulouraki. Each person at the table took turns “tapping” the others’ eggs, first at the round end and then at the pointed end. The person whose egg did not crack was accused of having replaced a real egg with a wooden one.
… grandparents (yiayia and popou) would rather nail their desk drawers shut than see their grandchildren get punished for messing around and playing with the contents.
….while the rest of America might have grown up knowing the only form of seafood was filet of sole with hundreds of tiny bones they had to pick out of their teeth, first generation children in the Greek-style fishing village of Tarpon Springs, Florida regularly ate shrimp, clams, and dozens of types of fresh fish always served with lemon, garlic and butter. Always butter.
… it mattered not whether other girls went on dates in high school. If there were no Greek-American boys to take us to proms, dances or even out for pizza, our parents saw little value in permitting us to have boy-girl relationships. Even phone calls. What was the point? In our parents’ eyes, we’d never marry them anyway.
… boys in the family MAY have been required to mow lawns, take out garbage and fix their own beds. Girls, on the other hand, learned to cook, dust, iron, scrub toilets, do dishes and set tables. Life was NOT fair.
… your mother never bought salad dressing. Salads were dressed right there in the big bowl, Greek-style. Olive oil, red wine vinegar, seasonings, perhaps some feta crumbled in or on the side. Sometimes you watched your mom use her caring hands to toss it, take a taste, add more of something and toss again. As a child, you thought she was a magician because her salads came out perfect every time.
… pasta always had a healthy dose of burnt butter and mizithra cheese,
… if a boy got to third base or even to home plate with a girl, it was considered a “rite of passage” and dads privately slapped them on the back, while their mothers turned a deaf ear. If it became known that a girl messed around, however, it meant no decent man would consider marrying her. Something about that American expression about “free milk” that even our immigrant parents learned to tell us about. Ah. But we had our secrets….
… being a Boy Scout was not nearly as important as being an altar boy. God took precedence over campfires, and merit badges played second fiddle to carrying a cross in the Sunday liturgical procession down the church aisle.
… there was no such thing as not being hungry. That just meant you must be ill.
… your yiayia and theas (aunties) took regular outings to pull dandelion greens from the nearby river bank. Then they would bring them home, boil them down, add lemon and olive oil and serve them up on a platter. They called this “economia” ….
… there was no reason to move out of the house before you were married. It would be a waste of money and besides, you’re mother would have a nervous breakdown (or so you were told).
Can you think of more? Please place them in the remarks section! And most of all, never stop celebrating your “Greekness” — !!