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Jonathan Willard

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Jonathan is a student at the University of Minnesta-Twin Cities from St. Paul, MN. His mother, Ephrosine (Frances) Elizabeth Willard, is a Greek American originally from Rochester, MN. Her grandparents came from the Peloponnese at the beginning of the 20th century. She married a non-Greek.

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License. Please contact Immigration History Research Center staff for permissions not covered by this Creative Commons license.

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Jonathan Willard
“ My Mother’s Table”

Throughout history there have been many famous tables, tables which bound people together.
Tables like the Round Table for King Arthur and the table for the Last Supper. They were tables that witnessed the greatness and unity of groups of men and women. But tables do not have to be famous to bind. My mother, Ephrosine Willard is an American born to Americans, and, she is a Greek among Greeks. She described her life as a melding between two cultures, the culture of her country and the culture of her family. For her family, the table was the center for everything Greek: Easter, Christmas, funerals and many other feasts. When my dad met my mom, he was shocked by how much of the family's life centered around the table: it was what held the family together.
My grandparents bought the table when my mom was 8, but she still has the table. She likes to call the kitchen the “lifeblood of the family”: it's where we all gather, and it is where we celebrate being a family. And the table is still the center of all that. The Greek calendar is filled with feasts and celebrations, so the table is where we celebrate Easter, Christmas, funerals and many other feasts. In Greek tradition, every food is a symbol for a part of our life: white cookies symbolize purity, red eggs the blood of Christ. Together we gather around to celebrate feasts common to many peoples, but we as a family celebrate as Greeks. It gives us a history and a richness. We, as my Mom's children, lead busy lives: we come and go, creating stories of our own, but our mother's culture and life still form our lives, even now. Rather than merely having our own stories, we have our mother's, and her mother's, and her grandmother's. My mom is an American, but she has a history as old as Greece. It's the table that holds that history for her.
When my Mom was growing up, she lived close to all her family members, but now they are dispersed throughout the country and the time she spends with them grows less and less. But, through our traditions and celebrations, our family still lives as a family: we get together for Easter and Christmas, and, since we are American, Thanksgiving too. Many of our feasts are American, but my Mom and her siblings celebrate them the Greek way: with food, food, food and more food.