When we got married, it was my full intention to make this a bicultural household. I had planned to do this by establishing customs and traditions from Russia into our family. Of course, I didnâ€™t know any. So I asked Vladimir.
He didnâ€™t have much to offer. He didnâ€™t remember. His mom had always been responsible for those things.
Iâ€™m not sure if this is a purely Russian thing. I suspect it is part of the nature of men and women. Women are the keepers of civilization, and men are the strength that supports them. Traditionally, while a husband and father has been out making a living, cultural values have been passed down mother to child in the home. The female child, seeing this model, understands that she must remember and sustain them in her family. The male child understands that he must follow the customs, but that his wife will be the one with the knowledge of them.
This isnâ€™t the whole picture, of course. There are many customs that are mostly in the domain of men, and as our marriage has progressed and the opportunity for Vladimir to practice them has come up, Iâ€™ve found distinctly Russian aspects creep into our life. For instance, only men cook shashlik And as events have occurred, he has brought up other things that were important to him. When we started regularly having people over, Vladimir taught me that it is considered very rude in Russia to hold a potluck dinner, something Iâ€™d grown up with as common.
Another reason I think that Vladimir had a difficult time helping me establish a home with more Russian influence is that he had already separated himself from mainstream Russian culture while still there. As a result, he did not value even what was good from the old country as much as he could have. This would probably be more common in those people who have emigrated from their home countries. One of the reasons they are able to do so is because they feel somewhat disconnected from their homelands and cultures.
There are other obstacles. It is difficult to get the things that make up a Russian lifestyle. And there is the social need to blend in.
I sometimes worry that other than their middle names and a few heirlooms, our children will hardly be touched by their Russian heritage. Sure, they think it is cool, but they have very little understanding of where their father is from.
Perhaps the arrival of my mother in law to live with us will change that.