Saturday, January 2, 2010

My Big Fat Uruguayan Family

I think one of the best things I’ve inherited from my parents is a big family, second to my Uruguayan culture. With my father’s 9 sisters and 3 brothers, it’s no surprise that we are a total of 35 first cousins, not counting the 2 cousins on my mom’s side, which brings us to a grand total of 37. The family keeps on growing with 9 children amongst the cousins, and 3 more on the way.

While I’m forever grateful that my parents decided to move to the States in search of a better life back in the 80s, I can’t help but get sad and wonder “what if?”, when I think about the distance that separates us from the rest of our family. I knew, from the moment we got on that plane that birthdays and holidays would never be the same...

When good economic times were on our side, our family would go back to Uruguay for the Holidays. There’s nothing like having a warm Christmas, with parties on the beach and sun bathing throughout our vacation. Not to mention the envy in our friend’s faces when we’d show up to school after our long winter break with a nice tan.

Despite the long distance, I’ll forever be grateful that our Uruguayan culture & traditions were upheld at home. Not only would Spanish be spoken at home, but waking up to the smell of “mate” throughout my childhood and starting off my mornings with a café con leche would bring about nostalgia, coupled with the longing to visit whenever possible. Traditional folklore music and our occasional asado always brought large group of friends to our home. The juicy steaks a la parrilla were always a staple at our parties…hotdogs and hamburgers never sounded so dull…

In January of 2003, on one of my trips back to Uruguay, I met my husband. I realize that the phenomenon of choosing someone who either looks like, acts like, or thinks like one of your parents is so true. I found that my husband has some of my dad’s traits, and soon realized this phenomenon couldn’t be more spot on. While there are subtle similarities, the most obvious are the Uruguayan traits…the “mate”, the desire to eat a good Uruguayan asado from time to time, the Spanish spoken at home, the traditional music in the background..the abundance of soccer games on my TV screen…and so on.

There is no doubt in my mind that I will continue to keep these traditions alive at home for my son, so that he knows where he comes from and appreciates his culture and big family. February 2010 will be his first discovery, as we take him on his first trip to our first home.

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