The Quad-Culture Kid

I’m pretty sure that Baby A brings a whole new meaning to the term “multicultural.” Not only do her parents hail from three completely different cultures (American, South Indian, Mexican), but we live in a country that prides itself on her diversity, celebrating the distinct Malay, Chinese, and Indian cultures.

This means growing up in a house where we celebrate Diwali (Deepavali, actually) and Christmas with a little “Nochebuena” thrown in for fun. Where we practice Saraswarti (Goddess of Learning) rituals to bless and honor our intellectual journey ahead along with Dia de los Reyes Magos celebrating the arrival of the three wise men who each brought a gift to Baby Jesus, and of course putting cookies and carrots out for Santa and his reindeer. Where English, Tamil and Spanish are used interchangeably for terms of endearments or everyday commands. My daughter doesn’t know if she’s “sweetheart” “kana” or “mija.” Where “You are my sunshine,” “Estrellita” and Rama hymns are sung to soothe and entertain the baby. Where we cook and prepare feasts for Thanksgiving, Diwali and Dia de Los Muertos. Where dal, Mexican hot sauce and chocolate chip cookies are always plentiful.

So, how do we impart on her the important traditions and lessons from our cultures while exposing her to, and respecting the conventions of different cultures around her – all the while attempting not to confuse the heck out of her?  The answer: Celebrate diversity!! Baby A is just three months old now, and all we can hope to do is celebrate the assortment of traditions in our own family by honoring the beliefs of each culture as they come. Teaching her the central lessons and fun customs that go along with each.

I know the very definition of Christianity teaches its followers to believe in Jesus Christ as the ONLY God and savior, but why not introduce her to Ganesh, Shiva and Lord Ram as well. Why can’t all of these figures be central to her belief system, and comfort her in times of need or prayer. There doesn’t need to be one way of life, one set of holidays, one religion or God to follow – there can be multiple, and I think my daughter will be better because of it. She will grow up already with a lesson of tolerance and acceptance. She will grow up embracing different cultures instead of shying away from them. She won’t be intimidated by new ways of life, because that’s the only thing she knows!

So, as the Holiday season approaches, with the docket full of funs days ahead including Halloween, Diwali, Thanksgiving, Nochebuena, Christmas, Dia De los Reyes Magos and why not add a little Chinese New Year to the list as well, you can rest assured that my daughter, even though just an infant, will be celebrating and honoring the traditions of each. Maybe we won’t know exactly what to do on Chinese New Year celebrations, but we will expose her to the festivities around town to the best of our abilities.

Our baby, the quad-culture kid (by the way, I say quad, because of the three cultures from her parents + the one(s) where we happen to be living), might be a little confused at first, but in the long run, we believe, will be better for it. So, first up, a little pumpkin carving for Halloween!



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