Every other year, I host a casual cocktail party to coincide with the opening ceremonies of the Olympics. I provide a liquor imported from the host city (Ouzo 12 from Athens, last time around) and ask my guests to bring a snack that represents their heritage. Every time, people reply, “But I’m a mutt.” Listen, kids. We’re all mutts. If you just moved here yesterday from Brazil, chances are that you have a grandparent or great-grandparent from Portugal. Even if your entire family never moved from one small town, the geo-political borders aren’t stagnant.

As an example: My great-grandmother Anna (née Aniela) came to the U.S. from a now-nonexistent territory called Galicia, in what was at that time northern Austria, but was previously under Polish rule. Her entry in the ship’s manifest from Ellis Island reads as follows:

Nationality (Country of which citizen or subject.): Austria
Race or People: Polish
Country: Galicia

Galicia was, at different times, politically allied with Poland, Lithuania, Austria, Hungary, Germany, and Russia (in no particular order). You all knew that “Poland” disappeared entirely for a while, right? Right?

What country are you from? It’s all just words. Borders don’t define you.

(Dedicated to my friend Drewseph on the eve of his European travels)

7 Replies to “Mutts”

  1. Mmm, Newfreepieland…

    If I wind up in Poland (if it exists at the time) I’ll feel much betterer about the whole experience with that bit of knowledge under my belt.

    I also have Austrian heritage, through my paternal grandmother. Other Heritageses include Scottish (duh, every kiwi has it), Irish and English, among others that are as yet undiscovered. So when people ask where I’m from?

    “Ohh, yeahnah, mate, I’m from Venezuela.”


  2. I am proud of my Muttitage and claim as my “homeland” whichever country of origin fits the mood, the moment, or the whim.

    Irish, today. May the road rise up to meet you and all of that.


  3. A theme party and I missed it??? Crap! I’m a Mutt fer sure, but I am MOSTLY Irish with a little bit of Black Foot and French. 🙂 So I’m thinking… I would bring Guinness, Champagne and Buffalo Jerky!


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