A (Cross-Cultural) Christmas Story

Shana Pike
December 26, 2016

Americans know how quintessential this movie has become during the holiday season. I mean, if playing it on 24-hour repeat during Christmas Day doesn’t give you an idea…

So naturally, after making some homemade, misshapen, and sliced-too-thick sushi (I’ll get it down one of these days), I suggested that my Finish friend and I should watch a Christmas movie. Because she’s a gem and also goes with the flow on just about everything, she said I could pick the movie. How can one pick a singular Christmas movie to sum up the American Christmas experience (obviously, minus the uncontrollable capitalistic, money mongering stress fest that Christmas often is) in approximately 90 minutes?

A Christmas Story it was.
It was bizarre watching that movie with a fresh perspective. It provided to be interesting and grounding. Also, how American is that movie. My goodness. Let alone the accents, the kid wants a cowboy-branded BB gun for Christmas, talks to scary Mall Santa to try and make it happen, shows a nine year old’s rite of passage by beating the snot out of a misunderstood bully, uses the “clean your plate, there are starving children in China” mantra at the dinner table, and takes places in the Midwest in a middle-class model of a nuclear family.

Having these discussions and being hyperaware of these nuances is something I greatly enjoy – analyzing the bits out of everything (thanks a lot, Gender Studies…). But it is especially this experience, being able to share something about my culture and, or even more so, being able to receive something about my friends’ culture, is what I’m going to miss most about my study abroad experience. This reciprocal relationship has taught me about countless things I would have never known: polder, EuroVision, Geitenwollensokken type (Goat wool sock type, or more notably, what my lovely Dutch friend calls me), the difference between kruidnoten and pepernoten, the significance of the clear-to-milky-magic-trick called Yeni Rakı, why there are so many flowers outside of pubs, the magical mbira, pasta with ketchup, and so many more amazing and wonderful things.

Can we talk about this pasta with ketchup real quick, though?

This is probably one of my favorite moments, but as I was making a Turkish-style dinner with my two dear friends from Istanbul, I asked them what one of their favorite “easy food” was at home. What is a Turkish equivalent to Americans and mac and cheese or peanut butter and jelly, if you will. They quickly responded with “pasta and ketchup!”

I looked at them with a crinkled expression on my face. “Pasta and ketchup?”

What?” they responded in unison, “you’ve never had pasta with ketchup?!”

Obviously we were on opposite sides of the spectrum. We had a quick discussion, trying to make sure we were actually talking about the same thing (we were). There you have it. Ketchup, one of the most American foods I can think of, but I’ve never had pasta with ketchup.

Have you ever had pasta with ketchup?

I can only hope these experiences are the start of many. I’ve always considered myself a bit of a wanderlust and living in the Netherlands for a few months has ignited that love. There are so many beautiful people to meet, experiences to have, and places to go.

As I start ranting about how much I enjoy traveling, I do have to say I’m eternally grateful to have a United States passport, because this is obviously a privilege that not everyone has. Most places I visit for holiday, I don’t need a Visa. For other Americans reading this that may not be aware, that is not the case for many citizens. It obviously depends on where you’re from and where you’re traveling, but Visas are often required even for holiday trips – which is financially inaccessible and heavily time dependent.

I digress. To sum it all up, a owe a groot dank je wel to everyone I’ve met and the cultural reciprocity we’ve shared. I have no doubt I will see y’all again in the future.

Shana Pike

<p>Hello folks! I&#39;m Shana, a small-town tree-hugger with a big appetite for experiences, culture, and knowledge. I&#39;m an undergrad student of Psychology and Gender Studies, yearning to understand my surroundings better each day. Welcome to my conglomeration of ideas and passions, all nourished by traveling, friends, spinach, and coffee.</p>

Home University:
Lawrence University
Gender Studies
Explore Blogs