MissSeven is doing a report on Germany for her class Multicultural Presentation next week. She knows that she has German ancestry, but still asks exactly which part of her is German, half of her face or an arm or what. If I wanted to be really evil I would give her all kinds of information about India and Japan and Colombia and have her make her report from that: “Germany is a small, densely-populated Asian island, its official state dance is Bollywood, and its main export is cocaine.” Ahhh. It’s so tempting.

Well, it got me thinking again how my kids really don’t have any strong cultural traditions or identification. They’ve lived their lives in the suburban Western United States, aware of the strong Hispanic presence in Colorado and the strong Asian presence here in Washington State, but it’s not theirs to own. Their culture is just Generic White American, formed more through television and videogames than any rich ethnicity. I too am a GWA, but at least my Wisconsin heritage loaded me with GERMAN STUFF. If you too are from there, you know what I am talking about. Bratwurst und bier und Käse, everyday language peppered with German words and phrases, and that pesky German work ethic abound.

It wasn’t until I left Wisconsin for good when I was 22 that I came to the eventual realization that not everyone knew how to polka, and some people didn’t even know what the polka WAS. What?? I don’t care if you are a nurse from Rhinelander or a crack dealer on North 24th St. in Milwaukee – you know how to polka if you are from Wisconsin. You can hear polka music on the radio, watch it on TV, and every event, from the small town carnivals to Summerfest has a polka band. No one sat out. The music would start and, depending on bier intake, it would not be thought of as odd to see a nasty biker dude dancing with a grandma, two teenage girls polka-ing, little kids on daddy’s shoes learning to polka, and anyone else that you thought would never ever get up and dance to anything, they’d be out on the polka floor. It was fun and funny.

So…I can’t cruelly subvert MissSeven’s German report, but I can provide you with a smile, inspired by all of this. My little Christmas gift to you, The Ramones and The Polka. Genießen Sie bitte!