The week before Christmas, I bought my eldest grandson a present from the tool section of our local hardware mart. It was the kind of manly gift, his mom and I agreed, he would probably enjoy. At the same time, I also bought a new mop wondering about my girlhood idea of fun.
I remember that I enjoyed school, reading, and the few precious friendships I was allowed to have. An only child, my play time with other children was hampered by Old World, strict parental restrictions as well as language and cultural difficulties. Officially, I was a Displaced Person–a stranger in a strange land, which I learned to love and cherish.
Not until college, did I observe that the people I admired tended to believe a Democratic country benefits from healthy criticism. I agreed that complacent self-congratulation is not appealing. An honest examination of ideas, traditions and conventions was a new and exciting modality even as I undertook a grateful citizenship.
Eventually, I discovered that, as an immigrant, I have a unique perspective that benefits from my expanded geographic and cultural experience base. I gleaned appreciation for the tradition of “traveling abroad” which tends to support the value of differences as well as recognizing the underlying sameness of the human condition and aspiration.
In honor of the new year about to arrive, I wish for my grandchildren to grow, not only in physical stature, but with an expanding inner landscape of healthy curiosity, tolerance and kindness, which reminds me of the inside-outside challenge I often present to my students. When the inner and outer landscape merges, there is a kind of beautiful connectedness and synchronicity to life.
As I look outside at the view through our slider, I notice that yesterday’s rain has refreshed and enriched the earth; a lovely, new green carpets the winter meadow. Time to bundle up for a walk.