Living In A Microcosm of Multiculturalism

Pictured here are candles shown in a Wikipedia article about the Indian holiday of Diwali.

I am not from India, though I have been to that vast, historic, and fascinating country on four visits, the most recent being after the Indian Ocean tsunami of 2004. But that’s another story.

I live in a wonderful community, and celebrate its richness of diversity — of its people, races, religions, cultures, etc. — any way one may classify it. My particular neighborhood is a microcosm of multiculturalism. Each household represents something different. In our little neighborhood set within suburban sprawl, we have residents who observe at least eight religions, reflect four races, range in age from 0 to over 90. Some are retirees; some are working couples. Some have parents or grandparents living at home to care for the kids. Some have small families, and some have large ones. Residents hail from more than 15 countries beyond the U.S. My partner and I contribute to the diversity as well (we’ve often joked to ourselves as being the “token gay couple”). Generally, we get along well and share our backgrounds, histories, hobbies, interests, and cultures with one another.

For example, right before Christmas, I bake a loaf of raisin bread for everyone in the neighborhood. My partner and I are both half Italian, and it is an Italian tradition to share bread at Christmas, which is the symbol of sustainment of life. We wrap each loaf in a ribbon and bring it to our neighbors, one-by-one, sharing good cheer, hope, and blessings for the holiday and the New Year.

My Indian neighbors across the street celebrated Diwali yesterday. They light candles and put them in little wind-proof holders and line their steps and walk with the twinkling lights. It’s nice to see when it gets dark. I learned that Diwali is also known as the “Festival of Lights.”

As I was preparing to leave to attend a public hearing yesterday evening, my neighbors walked across the street and gave me a box that contained home-made sweets. There I am on my driveway, in a leather jacket, jeans, and cowboy boots. I even had a Resistol hat on. They greeted this cowboy with good cheer and warm embraces. It was their way of sharing their holiday with us, as we share ours with them.

Sometimes we get so caught up in the day-to-day issues of things going on at work, at home, around town, and in our tanking investments, that we fail to observe the humanity and culture right down the street, around the corner, or next door. I sincerely appreciate that my neighbors help to educate me about what they value, and that they think enough of us to prepare a box of treats to share, and explain their holiday to us.

From all the struggles and strife that I went through in developing our neighborhood, and continuing to serve as the President of our Homeowners Association (among a few other civic activities), it is things like this small action — sharing a cultural tradition — that make me feel so good, and that make me feel that all my work and grey hairs were worthwhile.

Life is short: show those that you love (or like) that you love (or like) them!

This entry was posted in Home Life by BHD. Bookmark the permalink.

About BHD

I am an average middle-aged biker who lives in the greater suburban sprawl of the Maryland suburbs north and west of Washington, DC, USA.