When Cultures Collide

Many years ago when my mother in law was asked what she thought of her new daughter in law (me) she replied “She’s very — very English.” In my very English way I never asked for what thoughts lay behind this, but it has come to my mind on and off over the intervening years.

That we are influenced by our upbringing is absolute, including our cultures, customs and traditions and I like that. When we are open to other cultures and customs and traditions is it always the case that those are absorbed without us noticing?

This very reserved, very English girl with Northern English routes and from a tiny family married a very exuberant, expressive Greek Cypriot from Paphos with a family so vast it still overwhelms me when we are all together.

We have brought our children up in the U.K. with a good cultural mix of our beliefs and ways and at the very centre of our core is Family & Love Conquers all problems. Sunday Roast is something I excel at and there isn’t a Cypriot dish I cannot cook. This morning I have hung my May Day wreathe on the door.

For the first time I have a conundrum. We are to become grandparents for the first time in the summer and we have all assumed that we will be Pappou (Grandpa) and Yiayia (Grandma). Until my 93 year old father said most emphatically “But you are English. Why would you not be Nanny?”

True, I am English by birth with a huge helping of Irish and Scottish in the genes, but I am also Cypriot by marriage for two thirds of my life.

I cannot answer my Dad’s question, perhaps it does not matter. And perhaps I am no longer very — very English?

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