My family’s roots are deeply embedded within a land that is durable, yet humble. Immigrated from impoverished farms, my great grandparents and grandmother created life anew. Bringing their language, traditions, and customs from across the Atlantic, they continued to impart wisdoms and cultural pride to their children and grandchildren. They instilled a strong foundation of their origins through food, storytelling, and love, yet also highlighted the importance of the opportunities and successes that came with making the move to America.
Over the past 19 years of taking frequent trips and periodically living in Italy, I made the decision to relocate and immigrate to the land of my heritage. But it comes with a high cost of the heart. Although there is difficulty in leaving my parents, brother, 88-year-old grandfather, relatives, and friends behind, the world certainly becomes smaller now that we have technology to connect us instantly. But it’s the physicality of hugs, gestures, smiles, and the warmth of voices while speaking face-to-face that makes it that much more beautiful when in person. However, separation and goodbyes are never easy.
But now I’m learning to appreciate my roots in a whole new way… the American ones in which this is where I was born and raised by two remarkable individuals.
My parents will always be the cornerstone of my family, but as time progresses it’s having a mutual understanding that on our respectful paths we continue to grow and expand within our different seasons and stages of life.
For many of us, the thought of returning to our childhood home can feel as if we have regressed. That all of our independence that we’ve worked so hard to obtain in our twenties and thirties all becomes forgotten once we step over the threshold and we enter under our parents’ roof. Each family possesses a unique dynamic for better or for worse. But by stepping over that threshold knowing that no matter what is said or not, nothing is personal. You have earned your place in this world, but still, you are someone’s child and are rooted into your familial lineage. Although we’re not able to choose the family we’re born into, we can maximize our experiences when we are in their presence. It’s remembering that no matter what was said or done to you directly or indirectly, only you have the power to become a self-possessed individual who can choose to engage in conversation, answering or declining questions, and viewing others through eyes of compassion rather than judgment.
Certainly each of us has a character as unique and individualized as the next. However, if we can find a way not to take ourselves so seriously, even when we’re around the table for a holiday dinner, our loved ones will follow our lead. By approaching any situation you’re in with a sense of ease, others will pick up on it on some level or another and richer conversations, quality time, and perhaps sincere moments of togetherness can ensue.
Roots are important — they sustain, ground, and nourish us. In turn, we can only increase our own strength and continue to develop into the individuals we have become.