Growing up I was convinced I was Italian. As a kid all of my friends were either Catholic or Jewish. Imagine your childhood in a time and place where delicious ethnic cuisine was a couple of blocks away. The businesses were always family businesses. The food was wonderful. Naturally my favorites were southern Italian and anything you’d find in a good Jewish deli (except Borscht which I never liked nor understood). Bagel with cream cheese and lox? Love it. Sunday gravy with meatballs and sausage? Isn’t this what every family makes and eats on Sundays? Didn’t everyone go to synagogue on Saturdays and church on Sundays? When I was around 12 or 13 I began my spiritual quest. We had the big Sunday meal with family but for some reason we didn’t go to church or synagogue. I was confused about faith. So I turned to The Wise One of the family for guidance.
“Father, why don’t we go to church or synagogue?”
The Wise One did not hesitate with his response.
“You don’t find God. God finds you.”
Now imagine being around 12 years old and having that thought stuck in your brain.
Faith is a funny thing. You either believe or not. So the thought that I might have some Italian blood persisted my entire life. This belief persisted until this past week. My brother got one of those DNA ancestry tests done and graciously gave me permission to share the most intimate details of our genetic heritage in a public post.
Well, I’m not Italian. And I’m not 100% of what I thought I was. I might be Vietnamese.
Well this puts a different slant on everything.
My Grandmother Was Italian. Why Aren’t My Genes Italian?
We do have the genes we inherit — 50 percent from each parent. But Elissa Levin, a genetic counselor and the director of policy and clinical affairs of Helix, says a process called recombination means that each egg and each sperm carries a different mix of a parent’s genes.
“When we talk about the 50 percent that gets inherited from Mom, there’s a chance that you have a recombination that just gave you more of the northwest European part than the Italian part of your Mom’s ancestry DNA,” she says. That’s also why siblings can have different ancestry results.
While catching up on the news I stumbled upon this article from NPR.
I feel better already. I might still be Italian.