Like most Puerto Ricans I know, I grew up in a home that was loud, rumbustious, and interesting – to say the least. We fought hard, but we loved dearly!
The following sentence may seem like an overstatement, however, it comforts my heart and soul that my childhood can be summed up with three routine events that I still practice religiously.
The morning smell of coffee brewing and big breakfast cooking. My mom sitting at the kitchen table waiting to stuff my stomach before I start my day. I enjoyed waking up to my mom’s food. Occasionally, she would have rollers in her hair, a somber face, and would respond with a harsh and raspy “good morning”. But behind the rough exterior she was a good mother that provided and loved me. When she smiled, when she laughed, when she loved- it was beautiful! When she took off those rollers and put on her dancing shoes she was exquisite! But what I remember most is her telling me with all certainty and heart that “breakfast is the most important meal of the day”.
An afternoon cup of Cafe Rico (Puerto Rican coffee) drenched in milk, and Goya Tropical Crackers splattered with butter- compliments of Abuela (Grandma) Maria. We sat around her kitchen table, as she provided me with the latest and greatest stories of her children and grandchildren. Some would say it was chisme- gossip, however, l like to refer to it as Grandma’s worldly updates (no pun intended)- her family was all that she had. She had a small English vocabulary, mostly comprised of simple words, and a few words a sweet grandma shouldn’t utter. She rarely used those words, but on what I like to think of as “merited occasion”, she did. It may have been the delight of drinking coffee & crackers, but despite the language barrier, we always managed to understand each other.
An evening of PG rated Novelas- Spanish soap operas, and a cup of cinnamon apple tea with milk & sugar- compliments of Abuela Francisca. When she visited from Puerto Rico, my abuela Francisca would stay with us. Her evenings routine also consisted of praying the rosary. It was her sacred time, and no one was allowed to join her. Time with her was quite similar to my other abuela, but they did have their differences- abuela Francisca liked to party. Not sure how, but once again, I found myself being able to understand my grandmother’s interpretations of the soap opera scenes. Some would say how inappropriate, but I would like to think she would use those moments to share her consejos- advice about life and love with me.
I cherish these practices. And I still participate in them diligently to this day, although they look a little different. I am the one cooking the big breakfast for my children, but it is accompanied with a smile on my face. And once I am done serving them, I can’t wait to sit down and eat with them. In the middle of the day, I still have a cup of coffee with some type of pastry, but I will be lying if I didn’t confess, that I still crave a Goya Tropical Crackers slathered in butter. However, this is more of a time of silence and reflection. By far my most favorite practice is during the calm tranquility of the night, when I am sitting on my comfy chair, nuzzled under a cozy blanket, and sipping on a cup of cinnamon apple tea with milk and sugar; accompanied by a good book.
There were magical and youthful days where I had the privilege of experiencing all three of these practices. These women blessed my life dearly. However, now, I like to think these influential women in my life though, not with me physically, are with me as I participate in one of our cherished practices.
As I embark in this new journey, I pray and hope I can become a part of one of your daily practices- your morning inspiration, your afternoon break from the world, or your evening cool down. So join me with a cup of your choice- coffee, tea, chocolate- and you will be blessed with encouraging words to warm your heart & soul.