This week, the travel theme at “Where’s my backpack?” is Belonging.
As a military family, this is a theme that is on our mind, not only when we travel, but each time we fit the contents of our lives into moving boxes and prepare for life in a new community. One of the top questions in everyone’s mind is, “how will we find the place where we belong?”
As a parent of two lovely, lively and spirited Army Brats and TCK’s (Third Culture Kids), this is an issue that I grapple with daily. While have lived in Germany almost 5 years, and my children have only attended German schools, they are not German. Although they speak fluent German, and relatives tell me that they speak English with a German accent, they are American. Although we live our lives in German outside the walls of our home, within the sanctuary of those walls, we are very much a typical American family. My children sometimes struggle to figure out how to belong to both cultures, and I struggle to guide them towards understanding the cultures that surround them, while they forge their own unique identities.
Having a sense of belonging is essential to creating and understanding your identity. Growing up at the intersection of more than one culture makes it difficult to see where you belong in both cultures. Sometimes nothing seems to fit quite right. Sometimes you need to work a little harder to create that sense of belonging. Sometimes it takes an effort to feel at home.
One of my favorite travel quotes is from Freya Stark, who said that “the true fruit of travel is perhaps the feeling of being nearly everywhere at home.” But how do you manage to create home, and maintain a sense of belonging when your circumstances continue to change?
One of the ways we work to create a sense of belonging in any community is through traditions. Some traditions are big, some are small, some are new and some are old. Participating in traditions gives us a sense of belonging, both within our family, and the larger community.
Our traditions include food, activities, holidays and sharing stories. These are the things that give us a sense of belonging. Our family stories and traditions tie us to our history, by showing us where we came from. Our religious traditions give us a sense of belonging to something larger than ourselves. The holiday traditions we’ve created and celebrate give us a sense of community. These traditions are not static. They grow and change as we grow and adapt to our new surroundings.
Our families traditions are living memories along our journey, giving us a sense of belonging, no matter where our road leads us.
Here are just a few of our favorites.