When given an essay prompt about her favorite day, my ten year old wrote the following piece. This piece shows the power of family traditions in steeping our children in their culture and fostering a rich sense of identity. It also beautifully illustrates the juxtaposition of growing up Latina and American; embracing both cultures in a world where eating plátanos and playing congas are followed by playing in the snow. She gave me permission to share it here.
My Favorite Day
My favorite day was on Thanksgiving in 2014. My family and I had gone to Buffalo, NY to celebrate Thanksgiving. We started the day with my Abuela’s Thanksgiving feast. We had rice with beans and some chicken. There was sweet potatoes with roasted marshmallows on top. Of course there was a turkey that had been soaked in Puerto Rican flavors all night and stuffed with sweet plantains. We had every pie you could think of on our table. My cousins from my mom’s side came over to enjoy the feast. After a morning of talking and eating, we got ready for Thanksgiving on my dad’s side!
When we got to the party, there were all my relatives waiting to see me. I hadn’t seen them in 5 years! It was just like a buffet, I could not stop eating the delicious food. There was every type of Puerto Rican food you could think of. There was rice and beans, some of the best plantains I’ve ever eaten, and turkey I just couldn’t resist. We played the congas, danced Bomba music, and listened to my Tio Angelo play guitar. We danced and sang the night away! We took pictures to remember the night. At the end we were all stuffed!
My sisters and I never wanted the night to end, so we asked our parents if our cousins Eden, Leasah, and Daniella could sleep over. To our surprise, our parents said yes and we were all so happy! We started the night out with a game of hide-and-go-seek. We found a closet that had space like Narnia, no one would find us there. Soon enough, it was time to go to bed. At a sleepover you never sleep, so of course we didn’t. We were up all night doing prank calls. It was so funny! Before we knew it, we were asleep. We woke up in a daze trying to remember what happened. We looked out the window to see snow falling from the sky. We got in our winter clothes and played in the snow until their parents came. It was the best day ever!
Kyla Quiñones is a 4th Grader at Trinity School in Atlanta, GA.