Today I just feel very happy and at peace with the community I live in. This morning, I was watching what looked by American standards like a suspicious man walk across the playground. His face was relaxed into a stern expression as he stalked up to the picture window that faces out onto the parking lot. Then he started jumping around making faces at the kids. He’s the father of one of the new boys in Troll room. We got into a conversation. We’ve both been in Denmark about the same amount of time. He’s from Turkey. We had a good laugh when I said I moved because of Trump and he answered from his perspective, Donald seemed innocuous. We both agreed we are happy that our children are being raised in Denmark.
Yesterday, I was buying the kids coveted Kit-Kat bars at The Flying Tiger and I noticed the high schooler had on a Santa Claus outfit. This was particularly striking, because she had a beige scarf-like hijab under her goofy red hat. It embodied Denmark so perfectly. How here Julemænd are a class of supernatural creature, not a religiously affiliated fat guy who lives at the North Pole for children and then is banished as fiction when they get older. Anyone in Denmark can dress up as a Julemand and pretending to be a Juleman is like pretend 101 for small children.
The day before, we did Chanukah at a Chinese acquaintance’s house. Her Danish husband is obsessed with Judaism and while being treated like a wise mystical unicorn is kind of uncomfortable, he means well and it was neat getting to share the tradition with all the kids. It fascinated me that despite the fact that the two little girls there spoke Cantonese all the time with their mothers, and in fact one of them was 100% Chinese, they spoke Danish to each other. Much like my son, even when playing with his half English friend, will default to speaking Danish as she does. As a 3rd generation American, I’m pretty cognizant of how assimilation works, but watching it in action is fascinating. It’s like a window into how my parents, who both grew up speaking Yiddish at home, chose to raise their children only speaking English.
Culture is so malleable. It can’t be changed quickly, but how we raise our children…with each generation, we can alter it so much!