Over the holidays, we can all get bit nostalgic over family members we have lost. But we have also gained much.
This weekend, I spent time with my granddaughters, preparing the garden for colorful spring blooms. I came out in the morning cold (yes, we do have winters in California), and saw how the neighborhood critters had a good time in my garden last night. They had plucked the bulbs we had just planted, and now I have some gaping holes in the walkway. I was frustrated-but the moment did not last. I am so blessed to have my family ties, my home, my friends, my health, my work as a nurse, educator, researcher, and of course, the long list of students we have mentored, reassured, and kept moving forward so that they may become the future enfermeras and leaders for NAHN.
I live in a beautiful neighborhood, where we can marvel at nature, the huge oak trees that hug the sky, the hummingbirds, squirrels, possums, skunks, and even an occasional deer. From here, I can easily get to my beloved neighborhood in East Los Angeles, and the community I am devoted to. This is a far cry from what my parents envisioned for their children. This was my father’s wish when he first arrived alone in this country-that he find shelter and a better life for his family.
As so many immigrants do today, my father often worked at two jobs and instilled a strong work ethic and the collectivist spirit for familia, respeto, honor, and a sense of obligation to care for one’s own. For Latinos, family is not only a nuclear biological notion. La familia es la comunidad.
I have been thinking a lot about holidays lately. We are a country of immigrants, an increasingly diverse society. And yet, we are witnessing increasing distress over different ways of being; conflicts over race, color, language, food, and religiosity. Wishing to be inclusive, holiday greetings and displays need to be carefully considered, so that we do not offend.
But for many of us (do we dare to say it!), la navidad is also a cultural tradition. There are so many cultural symbols we can chose from to celebrate; the traditional evergreen tree, la flor de noche buena (poinsetta), luminarias, farolitos, tamales, lecon, pancil, pernil, ponche de crema, or even roasting a pig in a caja China. My own family celebrates with a tofu turkey, tamales and churros. My dad would smile.
NAHN represents over 100,000 Latinas nurses-and we have many rich traditions to share. Despite our great diversity, familismo is the glue that keeps us together. Our love for our families, the diverse communities we represent, and the future generation of enfermeas.
Join us in celebrating diversity. May we all experience a better life; serenity, and love for our ties that bind us and for our diverse extended kin.