March 3, 2016 – Identity vs nationality

I heard this the other day in wondering that people identify with more.  Most people seem to state when asked those questions “Where are you from?” or “What are you?” the nationality of a parent or a mixture of the parents if that is the case.

If you were to ask me where my family came from I would say Canada.  But they are not native Canadians.  They are a grand mix as it turns out.  Until recently I would relate to being Irish, which it turns out I am about 54% so that is my majority. But then there is the 34% Scottish with 5% Iberian Pennisula thrown in as well as a little Greek/Italian and Western European.   So mostly I am Scots/Irish.  But I have never really thought of myself in that way in terms of family customs etc.

Never ever did we eat corned beef and cabbage which many of my first and second generation Irish immigrant friends love to eat.  What my mom cooked was reflective of what her mother cooked and her grandmother I imagine.  We were meat and potatoes folks with mushy vegetables thrown in for good measure.  And that is the way most of my cousins eat but some of them learned to cook better than I did.  I learned late in life how to cook some things much better than I made my children suffer through.  Just doing things that way Mom had done them.

We did wear green on St. Patty’s day but everyone in school did so that was what you did.  I did not go to Catholic Schools so it would appear that even in the public school it was a day to wear green.

So in working through this what am I or how do I identify myself I guess I would say I am Canadian of Irish and Scottish background and proudly of French Acadian ancestry as well. My mother was a proud monarchist which would rule out her standing up for Ireland the way my Hibernian friends do.  She loved the Royal family and we always watched anything royal on the TV and collected articles about the king an queen and the kids.  But on her dad’s side that makes sense – she was fourth generation Canadian.  Her Great Grandfather came over in 1823 as a young man and became a loyal Canadian. And since she was the greater influence on myself and maybe my brothers it would make sense that we might feel that was our heritage, not Irish.

Now my oldest brother John was totally into the Scottish heritage. He loved celebrating Robbie Burns Day and eating haggis and wore his kilts and played the bagpipes.  But then he seemed to be much more a Laughland in so many ways.  He was also into celebrating all the celtic holidays, building big bonfires and braying at the moon. He was a hoot and a half in that way.

He was the only one of us really into identifying himself with nationality in that way.  I doubt if you met any of my other brothers you would be able to figure out from their behaviors what our background was.  Only if you asked would you find out.  There are no memberships in nationality groups, no urgency to attend nationality day parades, etc.

After becoming citizens of the US by birth I think that is basically what we are with strong ties to Canada.  And I am not sure how strong they all feel that.  I know I have strong ties and love my little piece of Canada.


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