ILLUSTRATION BY TRISHA KIM INOUYE
We asked you to share examples of idiosyncrasies, mannerisms, and characteristics that your parents or grandparents now have, that were formed by their migration experiences.
Wanted: American Dream Stories

smaller napkins

My mom always cuts napkins into smaller rectangles, because before, we were just so poor. Now, she does it out of habit. We also used to go to Sizzler all the time, because that was our idea of good “Amurrican” food.

green onion bands

My mom saves rubber bands, especially off the green onions and hangs them on the faucet. It was such a tool! You could do your hair. You could fix something.

empty containers

My mom has empty containers in the fridge because she says there still might be something there left to eat and enjoy from.

watery soap

When we were growing up, my mom would always add water to dish soap or hand soap when there was like 1/4 of the bottle left. I wondered why she did that, but never asked. Six years ago, I moved to live in China, and I had a house helper who did the exact same thing! At Christmas, I would go visit my Grandmother in Singapore, and she also did the same. I started to realize that this was habit that they probably picked up from lean times when adding water stretched out the soap to last longer.

ketchup sauce

My mom puts ketchup on everything like a seasoning instead of a sauce because when she was growing up her family was too poor to buy any other seasoning than soy sauce or ketchup.