September 23, 2011

Today is Heritage Day

On September 24, South Africans celebrate Heritage Day. It is a holiday meant to encourage everyone to remember their heritage, their culture, their traditions. Even though I'm not South African, it made me wonder: What is my heritage?

I grew up in Southern Germany, raised "schwäbisch," in other words thrifty with a terrible accent, growing up on my mom's homemade berry jam and the admonition to work hard and not impose on others. At sixteen I spent a year in the deep deep American South, having had the incredible good fortune of being accepted into the most wonderful family, and trading my Southern German accent for an equally broad and misunderstood American one. In my early twenties, together with Noisette - the other incredible good fortune of my life - I left the land of my fathers for good and set out for the New World, so to speak, but one I already knew from my high school exploits. Almost twenty years later, we are now citizens of that adopted country of ours, together with our four beautiful children, but in a twist of irony that is typical for our family we actually don't live there anymore, having been deposited on these murderous - if you believe the opinions spewing forth on the internet - shores of South Africa. And we carry around a little bit of Asia in us from our brief interlude in Singapore, from where we retain, at the very least, our fondness for spicy food and leaving our shoes at the doorstep.

So it's a bit complicated to reflect on my heritage, but I'm raising my glass to all the great places we've had the privilege to travel to and call our home, and especially the wonderful people we've met along the way.


courtney said...

I just came across your blog and think it is wonderful. I have just been told by my husband that we will be moving to Joburg in January and I have been reading through all your articles for hours. Thank you so much! I have just had a baby and was wondering whether it would be a good move from Brussels where we currently live and I think it will take some adjustment but not so bad thanks to your advice!

Sine said...

Hi Courtney - I'm so glad I could give you some comfort! Moving abroad with a newborn is always a bit scary, because pretty much everything is new and you worry a lot about everything, which in hindsight a few years later you might not worry about anymore. We were in that situation when moving to Singapore over 10 years ago with our oldest son who was one at the time, and then had another baby while there. I'm sure you will adjust well and love it here. Having live-in domestic help available when you have small kids is one of the things you'll love here! And beautiful weather year-round, lots of time outdoors.

Let me know if you have any specific questions. I have a friend who is from Belgium, though she has older kids.

W. A. Jeffrey said...

I think I would probably not get on well in the Asian countries as the only times I take my shoes off are to shower and sleep. I stub my toes a lot and have almost broken them a few times. Also, I just hate the feeling of going without shoes.