Staying true to the traditions of both my cultures – as a Latina and an Americana – has defined my identity.
However, over the years, I’ve learned that these traditions, as special as they may be, don’t necessarily fit into my bicultural identity. And so, while I’ve kept several traditions passed down through my abuelas, I’ve also adapted and created traditions with my family.
Noche Buena (or Christmas Eve) is the best example. Whether I’m with my mom’s side of the family or my dad’s, spending Noche Buena with family is a given. You can count on lechón and una caja china, plenty of Latin music and love. It’s about bringing in the holidays with those you care about most. I don’t plan on letting go of this one.
We all love our Quinceañera, and I was no different. What I didn’t care for was the idea of choreographing dances with 29 of my closest friends during freshman year of high school. This control freak said, “No, thanks.” Instead, I opted for dancing with the important men in my life. My mom and sister also had a special dance (because we’re different like that). But let’s not forget, there was the big party and poofy dress.
Now that my siblings and parents live across Florida, we don’t always have time to see each other for Thanksgiving. So, we’ve made our own tradition: a pre-Thanksgiving Weekend. My parents and the kids meet up for a weekend to spend time together before the madness of the holidays ensues. This way, if anything were to come up – and as children of divorced parents, you can be sure they do – we’ve had some special time together.
While, by definition, traditions don’t change, what makes this a unique moment for us as Latina-Americanas is that everything is changing. So long as we keep our culture and values at the core, making new traditions can be exciting. And our abuelas typically love them, too.