OK, so I'm not Jewish.
That would be pretty cool. Then I could be watching "Fiddler on the Roof" and looking forward to THOSE traditions.
But I, as usual, digress.
My younger daughter is getting married next Friday. It's the second wedding of the summer for our family (see Rachel's wedding for more) and we are knee-deep in dress fittings, chocolate fountains, gerber daisies, and Jordan almonds. Lauren's future mother-in-law is Polish, and the mister is 100% old-country Italian. Our family is, of course, Polish on The Big Man's side (and proudly so) and German and Czech on my side.
When I was growing up, I knew my ancestors were from Europe, and that was pretty cool. Yep. That's about it. My grandma and Aunt Mimi made some mean pierogi (you thought those were Polish, didn't you? But who knew the Slovaks make 'em, too?) and my Mom always made a saucy sweet and sour sauerkraut on New Year's Day. (German? Not so much. It was actually something my Slovak grandma dreamed up.)
I was brought up to be American, that's all. Even though my mom was 100% German, and my paternal grandfather came over from Europe through Ellis Island, there were no real ethic traditions encouraged in my childhood home. Maybe it had something to do with the fact that my German mom grew up in America during WW II, when Germans were not all that popular. I don't know. All I know is that while I always knew my roots, they weren't terribly important. I was taught to be American, and to be very proud of that. (My father is a WWII vet, after all.)
So when I married into a Polish family 22 years ago, I thought it was nice that they had traditions, and I do find them intriguing and love to share them with my Polish children. (I love to tell folks that my husband is Polish, my children are Polish, and I am Polish by association.) But now that my daughter is getting a Polish mother--in-law of her own, I'm baffled by the passion she has for all things....ITALIAN!
I've learned that "The Italians" need to be served a sit-down meal, not a buffet. "The Italians" really prefer large centerpieces, not the small ones Lauren selected. "The Italians" really dig dessert -- and there darn well better be lots of them, including cream puffs, cannoli, and things that look like peaches but are not. And "The Italians", I'm told, INSIST on Jordan almonds, and there must be five or seven of them in a little net pouch for each guest. (These, I found through my research, are meant to be pelted at the newlyweds as a fertility ritual. That's actually pretty cool...) If you don't provide the nuts you are risking THE EVIL EYE. I am not, even for a second, kidding. The words EVIL EYE were used to me in a discussion about these tasty, yet teeth-cracking, morsels. Oh dear.
So now the wedding is almost here, and I'm doing damage control. I'm trying to incorporate the traditions everyone loves (Polish, Italian, you name it) but keeping in mind this is not an ethnic wedding. It's not an Italian wedding, or a Polish wedding, or even an American wedding. It's a Catholic wedding.
Truly, that's the only detail that matters to me, and, I'm happy to say, to my daughter and her soon-to-be husband. They respect the traditions of their ancestors, as do I, but what matters to them is that their wedding will be a Catholic one.
How cool is that.
So while I'm trying to fit those Italian pastries on the table with that modern chocolate fountain, and telling the DJ (my dear brother) to play at least a couple polkas for my mother-in-law, I'm inwardly (and outwardly!) rejoicing that my daughter has found a young man who loves the Catholic Faith as much as she does. Their family will have Polish/Italian/German/Slovak roots. But its branches will be fully American, and better than that, completely Catholic.
Now there's a tradition that I'd like to see carried down through the generations, from now to eternity.
With or without Jordan almonds.