A high-tech heritage in Hawaii

@postaday 84; #postaday2011

Kid1, aka Sophie, was stymied by a homework assignment last night: What connections do you have to a culture and its traditions, customs and rituals?  How does your heritage and culture shape you?

Such an answer is harder, IMHO, for haoles in Hawaii. In  Hawaii we exist in a lifestyle that could be defined by a steam-tray buffet line at an Island party. Rice, noodles, tossed and potato-mac salad populate the long table with sushi, char sui, won tons, Redondo red hotdogs, barbecue short ribs and grilled chicken. Someone might bring a lasagna tray. Someone might bring deviled eggs. We marry into each others families, we live in neighborhoods of mixed ethnicities, children grow up going to school with peers who are Chinese, Hawaiian, Japanese, Korean, Pacific Islanders, Middle and Far Eastern, black and white, and of beautiful blends; Christian, Buddhist, Catholic, Muslim, Jewish, and live-and-let-live types, and nonbelievers.

I like all this. My kids have yet to distinguish their friends based on ethnicity. But it didn’t help my child get her homework done. She knew many of her classmates have strong ethnic identities. We do not. My heritage spans personalities who migrated and married from Switzerland to England to Ireland to America. I count among my ancestors pirates and other bottom-dweller criminal types. Let’s not even touch on spirituality.

Since I’ve distanced myself from my own heritage, there’s very little of that influencing how I raise my children. My in-laws are close, but they are not meddlesome. My mother-in-law might weigh in on something sometimes and she taught the girls fun things when they were little. And it seems my in-laws have compiled an impressively detailed genealogy that will one day fascinate the girls.

So what did Sophie come up with? She wrote a forward looking essay on how technology is her family’s culture, how it connects us with family and friends far and wide, how it has piqued her curiosity and reveals to her the possibilities of what the roads of life have to offer. We are wired, we are wireless. We are on a cloud, we home share music, books and movies on iTunes, we are digitally in touch throughout the day. It is a high-tech cloak of connectivity that defines our small family’s culture. While many of our friends’ families have fascinating histories, I believe we have a fascinating future.