Why do we have an official holiday in the United States for some presidents, but not all of the presidents? Why do we not celebrate the “Day of the Child” but put great emphasis on celebrating “Mother’s Day” and to a lesser degree, “Father’s Day”? What is “Black Friday” and why is it the day after Thanksgiving? What do we do with Thanksgiving anyway while we live in London? Or what do we do with it in the United States as in today’s modern world we often jump from Halloween directly into Christmas and skip over Thanksgiving? Holidays are so confusing to TCKs. They seem to tap into our questions on identity.
Let me quote from my book, “Belonging Everywhere & Nowhere: Insights into Counseling the Globally Mobile” which is available on Amazon.com on this entire matter of identity and holidays. I will begin with a good example of the colliding of the multi-cultural world of the TCK and a Cultural Psychologist.
“The Cultural Psychology professor asked each student to ‘Describe how your family celebrates Thanksgiving.’ The TCK in the class was confused about answering that seemingly simple question: ‘It depends on where we are at that time as to how we celebrate Thanksgiving.’ The professor tried again, ‘Well, describe how your family celebrates Thanksgiving culturally.’ Again, the TCK did no know how to respond to the question and expressed his inability to answer this question since his family had made so many transitions between cultures. The professor kept interrupting his questions and restating the assignment, ‘How does your family celebrate Thanksgiving?’ At this point, both the TCK and the professor were frustrated – their cultural worlds had unknowingly collided. The professor of Cultural Psychology was completely unaware of the multi-cultural world of the TCK and it hadn’t occurred to the TCK before that it was so unusual to have celebrated Thanksgiving in so many ways. (As told in Cross-Cultural Symposium, Butler University, Indianapolis, IN, Oct. 13,2011).” (Pg. 98)
“While there may be many TCKs who struggle for a while with wondering who they are or where they belong, once they understand the reason for their confusion and that these feelings are within a normal range for others of like experiences, most go on and embrace the various places of their life rather than feeling as if they only have an either/or choice to decide who they are.” (Pg. 99-100)
“As the TCK slowly learns he is both the insider and the outsider at the same time, he comes to grips with his own identity. To have those parts recognized and valued while being welcomed and respected into the group or culture where he resides, he learns to accept himself. Although he cannot control how others respond, he can respect that restlessness due to his heritage of many cultures. This is why I love Pico Iyer’s term ‘Global Soul’ when he describes the TCK.” (Pg. 101)
So, as a TCK what do I do with the various holidays? I don’t have to decide either/or regarding celebrating holidays or my identity. I can embrace all of them! I celebrate those holidays that are celebrated in the country where I am living currently. Yet I find, I have to put them into my calendar with some notation i.e. “Nothing open”, “Don’t go to work”, “Buy a card” or “Buy candy” along with the date. Those holidays important to me, yet ignored in the country where I live i.e. “September 15” (Independence Day for Honduras) or “Noche Buena” (December 24), I find my own creative way to celebrate them with other TCKs even if I can’t get the day off of work.
I believe I am fortunate as a TCK because I can celebrate all year long! And because I have lived in so many countries, I could probably find a reason to celebrate every day!
What will I do with Thanksgiving?
I will list my “global heritage” identity as something for which I am thankful this Thanksgiving. This is what I will do with Thanksgiving!