Written By: Lizi Oates
I look at the clock. 11:45, finally lunchtime. My 10 year old brain is still humming as I put my books in my desk, fix a pleat in my uniform skirt and walk across the room in search of my backpack. My hook is on the far wall of our classroom, at the Christian private school I attend. The other students in my small grade 4/5 split class race to their hooks for their lunch pails. My eyes scan the wall;
Power Rangers, SpongeBob, and Arthur themed lunch packs hang on almost every hook. My eyes land on my all-to-familiar, faded, hand-me down backpack. I pull out a plastic grocery bag and quickly go back to my desk. As I look around at Lunchables, Twinkies and Dunkaroos, I brace myself for what I would find in my own lunch today. I quickly open the bag, unwrap a corner of my plastic wrapped lunch and sheepishly take a bite, trying to eat into the plastic bag. I try to avoid the all too familiar scenario of friends seeing my lunch, making a face and again asking, “uhh, what are you eating?”
You see, my immigrated Romanian parents felt it uncecessary to buy balony and cheese, but would send me and my other eight siblings to school with the same Romanian food we ate at home. That day mom made my lunch. I had watched her dip fresh bread in egg, season it and fry it to piping hot (Pita cu ou for any fellow Romanians out there); you might call it a version of french toast. Other days I would open that plastic Food Basics bag and find anything from cabbage rolls and sausage on a bun to boiled eggs with sour cream sauce.
I vividly remember my anxiety as I sat there eating my homemade, ethnic lunch everyday during elementary school. It was a constant reminder that no matter how funny or cool I had been with my friends that day, I came from a very different country, nationality and family.
What I didn’t know then was that my strong cultural heritage would become one of the greatest blessings in my life. The uniqueness of my Romanian family has become one of the things I am most proud of. Ironically, my four sisters and I have spent countless unforgettable hours in the kitchen with my dear mom, learning to make the same foods that I used to be so self conscious about.
My parents immigrated to Canada twenty years ago from a communist country clutching onto nothing but their children and faith in God. They brought with them a rich culture that has been instilled in my heart and will forever be one of my greatest blessings in life. I am eternally grateful for the privilege to be a part of such a rooted, Godly, rich family!
So this thanksgiving, while your family might be gathered around a table eating turkey, stuffing and ham, the twenty-person Muresan clan will be crowded around two tables packed with Chicken snitzel, cabbage rolls, garlic dip, boiled eggs and a massive display of homemade pastries. I am thankful for my heritage.
I am thankful for my family. I am thankful for the moments we spend together, and I wouldn’t trade them for all the Lunchables the world.
About Lizi Oates:
Lizi Oates is a twenty-five year old Preschool teacher who loves baking, singing and winter snow. She is married to Kyle and pregnant with their first baby! Jesus has changed her inside out and is continuing to amaze her everyday!