If we do not honor and love our family members, then what we do for others who aren’t our family will never be as great as it can be.
That is why I first had to write about my grandmother this morning, on her birthday.
France is very near and dear to the culture of my family, on both sides.
My grandmother, who was born on this day in 1919 gave birth to two of her children in Paris, near Notre Dame. One of those children was my father.
While proudly Polish, she also very much loved Paris and French Culture.
I was blessed to grow up in a very multicultural family, and while both my grandparents were proudly Catholic, my last name is Soroka, which is the name of the largest hospital in Israel and is a common Ashkenazi last name. Unfortunately we don’t know enough history about my grandfather’s family, who were considered Peasants while my grandmother’s family was consider Bourgeoisie. And “Peasants” and “Bourgeoisie” are the terms my family used to describe my grandparents’s backgrounds, which makes sense considering they escaped Marxism and Communism in Poland just in time after the war ended.
My mom has an equally interesting background of escaping Communism but decades later on the other side of the world. My mom grew up in Vietnam with the influence of French colonialism and loved studying French. When she was 18 she was given a college scholarship that allowed her to escape Vietnam during the war and come to Wisconsin to attend university, where she met my father when the International Students Organizations picked her up from the airport.
She later gave birth to me in Scotland, where my dad was stationed for his first tour of duty as a doctor in the United States Navy.
And today I live in NYC, one of the most diverse cities in the world with a beautiful statue given to us by the French, and on 29th Street just 5 minutes south of Herald Square’s Macy’s, I’m two doors down from what us outsiders call a mosque. (But I’ve been told it has a different term, probably similar to how there’s a difference between Cathedrals and Chapels.)
When the Lindst’s Chocolate store was taken hostage in Australia I had the awful thought that Amé Amé and I were perfect targets for a similar attack in the United States.
Whereas at the same time I once thought I was going to one day be Mrs. Teresa Ali, because I had fallen in love with a young Pakistan i-American muslim shortly after moving to NYC. Suli had come to this country about the same age my father was when he came here, and he and his brother have embraced the modern American way of becoming Silicone Valley entrepreneurs.
And I have made friends with many of the 29th streets Mosque members, even the guys who sell on tables outside my store.
Blessed I have been to have such diversity in my life, and at the same time I’ve dealt with the hurt from many different forms of prejudices.
And loss of innocent life in the cross fire of politics, and the fear caused by people who have become terrorists and lost part of their sense of humanity, is always upsetting. Whether it’s 128 people dead in Paris or people whose lives changed for the rest of their life because they decided to run the Boston Marathon, it all can be disheartening.
But that’s why a Charming Future is very much what I strive to help create through Amé Amé, an atelier, a boutique, and a culture lab.
Maintaining and enriching peaceful coexistence and celebration between people of all beliefs, traditions, and other matters that form meaningful culture are very important to me.
And so a a few weeks back I was inspired to see if I could create “A Miracle Off 34th Street.”
I started talking to some people about creating a magical December experience at Amé Amé for people who are proud to be Americans (or admirers of America) and proud to embrace the multiculturalism that is woven through the fabric of being American.
And after the news about what has happened in Paris, how can I not keep trying to make the dream come true?
At the core of my dream for this December and all future Decembers is to have the an awesome photo opportunity for people that celebrates cultural and spiritual diversity, and also reminds us how lucky we are to be able to just smile. Think of it as blending “Macy’s Santa” with “Disneyland’s It’s a Small World” with Amé Amé style and the chance to support Operation Smile and Trust for Public Land, two of my favorite American not for profit organizations because of the efforts they make to ensure a charming future for others.
I’m a big believer in the power of belief and at least small miracles.
So if you want to know more about about Miracle Off 34th Street and see if you can be part of it, please reach out to me.
Otherwise, please stay tune. In some form or another it will happen this year or next.