My Big Fat Greek Wedding summed up Greek life very well. Admittedly when I first saw it fourteen years ago, and countless times since then, I could relate to 99.9% of what the main character went through. In a nutshell, that was my life growing up, and, things I still go through even as a grown adult. Minus the Windex and my Dad owning a restaurant. Although he did manage a little diner for a couple years when I was two, but anyways…here goes.
My parents were born in Greece. My Mom and her family immigrated to the United States, docking at Ellis Island in 1969. She went back to Greece when she was eighteen. My Grandpa was very old fashioned, and he insisted she go back to “find a nice Greek husband,” so, that’s what she did. After some jerk head jilted her weeks before their wedding, she found my Dad later that year. They married in September of 1979, and the rest is happy history.
I grew up surrounded by a loud, boisterous, everyone knows your business, eat until your tummy bloats, family. I had three different names, and still do. I was called by cousin’s names before whoever would get to my name, “Effie, Joanne, Rosie.” This is still something I laugh about to do this day, because it still happens. When we get together, there’s never a dull moment, the volumes really “loud and louder” and you may hear several conversations going on at one time. Someone may also bust out the bootleg liquor straight from the Fatherland, which incidentally happened over Christmas last year.
I went to Greek school with my brother and our cousin, and it was an amusing experience to say the least. I learned Greek before I learned English, because everyone around us spoke the language most, if not all the time. I’m still fortunate enough to speak, and understand it fairly fluently, enough to watch a Greek film, listen to music, and spout a naughty word, or fling an insult once in a while. I used to be able to read and write it, but unfortunately this has fallen by the wayside.
Some of the best summers I’ve ever spent, were with my family in Greece. My Dad’s family still lives overseas, so it was great to have loved ones to stay with. Greece is a magical, beautiful place. Where the water in those pictures you’ve seen, really is that blue, and the food is just to die for, and people are hospitable. When we (my family and I) visited, everyone, and I do mean everyone wants to feed you. From a distant cousin you haven’t seen in years, to a family friend, to your aunt, uncle, Grandma, they all love to have you over. And feed the stuffing’s out of you! The problem is, the food is so good that you want to keep eating. Rich, tasty, homemade goodies that make your taste buds dance a chorus line. Ripe, fresh, garden tomatoes, tasty, melt in your mouth peaches, also fresh from the farm. Gosh, fun times, good times, good people. I hope to take a trip back soon, and this time introduce my husband and son to the culture.
As I wrap up this post, I realize I’ve only put a nick in the many facets of my ethnicity, and will make this a little series, sharing things over time. From my very own “Big Fat Greek Wedding,” to living abroad when I was seven, to amusing stories, there is still so much I’d love to share with you, dear reader.
I will say, as crazy as it can get, I’m grateful everyday for my family, my heritage, and the rich history I grew up in.
I live in America, but a piece of my heart will always belong to Greece.
Author of Spicy Contemporary Romance
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