This week’s Think Write Thursday topic is to write about your heritage. Are you Irish and ready to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day tomorrow? Are you Italian or Greek or English? Tell us about your ethnic background and culture and how the traditions of your heritage fit into your lifestyle.
Well… that’s a mouth full, isn’t it? So much to think about!
My heritage is most interesting – my maternal roots are German and my paternal roots are Dutch – although, that is not hard to figure out – I was born in Zeeland, Michigan and grew up in Holland, Michigan and lived there most of my adult life!
However, some interesting facts to share:
My maiden name is Sloothaak and while there are a few of us in West Michigan, in the Netherland’s there are oodles and oodles of them! It was most enjoyable to look in the phone directory and see pages and pages and pages of my maiden name! And, in Dutch my name translates literally to “Ditch Hook” – or, really Ditch Digger. I had much fun with this – I mean really, how great is it that your claim to fame is digging ditches to keep the sewage off the streets… seriously. I am not kidding. You have my ancestors to thank if your ancestors did not have to walk in the sh*t (although, I take no responsibility for the smell!) Oh, and the pronunciation? Slōt-hăk not Slow-thack as many pronounced it in Holland – imagine my joy that in hearing those in the Netherland’s pronounce it perfectly!
My maternal grandparents have interesting history. My Grandpa was the Valedictorian of his high school class; however, his family did not have enough money to send him to college. He worked in a silk stocking mill (yes, he was a machine knitter!!) and he was also a union organizer. When he was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in his 40’s he could no longer work, but he was the most wonderful Grandpa! He daily tried to “beat the Chinaman” playing Solitaire. He was an avid reader and a bird lover who could identify birds from their call alone! He could recite Carl Sandburg and Joyce Kilmer poetry – his favorites were Fog and Trees.
My maternal grandmother was a spitfire, truly! When my grandpa was unable to work, she went to Beauty School and became a hairdresser to support her family, she was good at this though – she had to quit school in the 5th grade when her step-mother died and as the oldest, she became the caretaker for her 5 siblings. She was also an amazing cook, she sewed, and canned, and made Sauerkraut in the garage. She learned to drive late in her life when it became necessary. She was my favorite person in all the world and I miss her so much every single day, but my life is so full of what she taught me – she was absolutely the biggest influence on my life today!
So, where do these influences show up today in my life? I simply love tulips and Holland Michigan does them well, but seeing the fields in the Netherlands was equally stunning. I also love a good Saucijzebroodjes (that is Pig in the Blanket for those that don’t know Dutch) and Hempel’s Pastry made the best! I have my well worn Eet Smakelijk Cookbook.
I also am a good Lutheran (well, as good as a Lutheran can be, you know Martin Luther did say ‘sin, and sin boldly’ and believe me I do!) I love Knödel (and my nana made the best!) While I do not make Sauerkraut in the garage, I do love it! And don’t forget the Bratwurst! However, the best nod to my heritage is my indomitable spirit that won’t give up. (In other words, I am as bull-headed as any German you might have ever met! LOL)
There you have it, a brief glimpse into the heritage of me! What things did your heritage give you?
If you want to see what others shared today, you can do so here. And, if you would like to take this Think Write Thursday journey with Carole and I, you can sign up here! We would love to have you join us!