The culture of weddings and anniversaries, for example, escaped me entirely.
One evening we were having dinner with friends, and I complimented our guest on her ring.
She received it from her husband as an anniversary gift. A third ring: she already wears an engagement ring and a wedding ring.
She explained it was a tradition. I’ve never heard of this tradition.
She then ticked off each year of marriage and the associated gift:
The list continues.
If you are married 90 years you get … granite.
You can locate the anniversary gift chart on the Hallmark website—an unsurprising finding.
In my family our cultural ways didn’t include anniversary gifts or big weddings.
I am obtuse when it comes to bachelor parties, baby showers, renewing wedding vows and other traditions outside my arenas of knowledge.
Our family observed customs I didn’t know–at the time–were linked to our tribal ways. I just figured they were family traditions.
For example, my grandmother came to live with us (more than once) while recovering from drinking. I know many Indian (and non-Indian) families where Ecko comes to stay.
Another family tradition was Ecko would send my mother checks for our food and clothes when the quarterly tribal money arrived.
And we were taught the unbending rule that elders are respected. Children settled into the background, making hidden mischief.
I’ve witnessed the opposite in other families, where the children are the center of attention and the grandparents settle into the background.
Different families, different customs.
Not sure I’m going to hold out for granite. Besides, I never got that email.
Blog #18 for Native American Heritage Month