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Cultural Perks & Comical Quirks…

Growing up in a Puerto Rican home had its cultural perks, as well as some comical quirks.

The Salsa and Merengue music playing in the background throughout my childhood was definitely a perk…

…While my Mom cooked dinner.

As she stirred, mixed, and chopped the ingredients, there were times that her body would become one with the music, especially those hips of hers. They would sway back and forth.

She was in her own world.

…While my Dad washed his car on the street in front of our house.

As he sprayed water from the hose, rubbed the sponge filled with dish washing soap, and dried the car with old torn bath towels, my dad would sing his heart out.

He was in his own world.

…While my Mom, Dad, sister and I, had our very own family dance off on a Saturday afternoon – usually triggered after  watching The Soul Train.

As my sister and I watched our parents dancing, we would pay close attention to their posture: spine straight, chin up and shoulders back, their feet were in sync. The hand exchanges and turns were smooth and controlled. 

They were in their own little world.

And when we would finally get our turn, we became a part of their world too.

…While we had our family holiday and celebration gatherings: New Years Eve, Halloween parties, weddings, birthday parties.

As we celebrated, we usually would enjoy a delicious home-cooked meal together. We would sit around and talk. And sometimes you couldn’t tell if we were arguing or just having a good time, because of our loud, sharp, and robust voices. 

And then, there were those times when the music was accompanied with some exquisite and vivacious dancing.

In that moment, we were in our own little world. We were family!

Then, there was the Jibaro music that played during the Christmas season for La Parrandas Navidenas (Puerto Rican version of Christmas caroling).

In the early 80s, I remember being at my Abuela Maria’s house on Christmas Eve, and some tipsy musicians and singers showed up at the house unbeknownst to us.

But, they were very much welcomed and so were their Latin- American percussion instruments- cuarto (4 string guitar), tamboriles (tambourine), guiro (wooden instrument that had a metal scraper), maracas and palitos (sticks).

They played their instruments and sang with my family for about an hour. And when they left they took a couple of my family members along with them for the next surprise visit.

Another time, at my Tia Socorro’s house, the traveling group ended at her house at around three or four in the morning. Once they were finished playing it was my Aunt’s responsibility to have the asopao de pollo (traditional soup) ready for them.

Our music knit us together with one beautiful memory after another.

Then, there are the comical quirks of being Puerto Rican.

One example is the nickname – an endearing, and yet funny name assigned by a family member. At times the nicknames were flattering, and then there were those downright embarrassing, and belittling ones.

Usually, family members and extremely close friends to the family knew the name and were entitled to enforce the nickname, so that it would stick.

When I was a baby, my Uncle Ramon, who happened to have a dark complexion, liked calling me Casper. However, the nickname didn’t stick for long.

My Mom preferred Hincha– pale, which eventually altered into Hinch. I never knew what it meant, until recently. 

My Mom also liked calling me Mami  (slang for baby), which eventually morphed into Mimi, the nickname my family members still refer to me as.

I remembered loving that name when I was little, since it was quite similar to Minnie, which happened to be my favorite cartoon character.

When I was around the age of five, my Uncle Davy bought me a beautiful mirror with the Minnie image on it.

I also still remember owning a pair of minnie earrings. I can recollect that tragic day when one of the earrings fell into the bathtubs drain.

But those weren’t the only nicknames my mom gave me, I was also her Flaca (skinny).

I wasn’t the only family member that had the privilege of having a nickname.

My sister was Gorda (fat girl), my brother was Duno (derived from Junior), my Mom was Goddy (Margarita), and my Dad was Cabezon (big head).

I had cousins, aunts, and uncles who had nicknames like Fatgirl, Football, Negrita (dark skin), Gordo (fat boy), Lola, Rocky, Bolly…

Yes, some of them weren’t so nice- Gorda, Flaca, Fatgirl.

Some of us eventually grew out of our nicknames, and asked everyone to please call us by our legal name.

But, I know the nicknames were said with love and endearment.

Our nicknames drew us closer.

It made us a part of our very own private clan.

It gave us an identity within our family unit.

And, it separated us from the rest of the world.

Those were the good old days. Things seemed so simple back then.

We were bonded together by my grandparents love for us. But, once they left to be with the Lord, the seal was broken, and thus we were also.

When I reminisce about those times, my heart overflows with joy. Family meant everything to my grandparents.

Today, I still go by Mimi, but my identity is defined by my relationship with Jesus Christ.

Jesus Christ has over 200 names. Each one speaks towards who He is.

To know Him by these names is to be a part of His family, and to experience Him to the fullest.

A few Names of Jesus Christ…

Alpha and the Omega

the I Am

First and Last

Jehovah Jireh- Provider

Jehovah Shalom- Peace

Strong Tower

Hiding Place

Refuge

Prince of Peace

Yes and Amen

This entry was posted in: Blog

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Rosabel Sanchez is a woman who loves God- serves Him with great humbleness, loves her family and friends- serves them with great love, and love life with such a great appreciation for all that she has been blessed with. She, her husband and 4 children lead two churches on the southwest-side of Chicago, where they all live. As I embark on 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.

9 Comments

  1. Rosa, thank you for the laughter you have given me today. The good old days, yes I remember those days very much, when your mom and I would go out dancing to a party or club and your mom and I on the floor all night dancing.

    I remember very well the last time we danced together, she loved Bachata music, I still remember her whenever I hear Bachata.

    She is a very courageous woman, just like her beautiful daughters.

    I remember very much the Parrandas going from house to house and meeting new people, the laughter, the music and the singing was great. Your mom loved all that, I loved her laughter no matter what she was going through in her life she always laughed.

    I love you girl and thank you for the memories, we are so busy we forget the days of when they were good and so peaceful.

    Thank you,

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much for your comment. Thank you for being such a good friend to my mom. She did love to dance! I also loved her laughter. There is not a day that goes by that I don’t think about her. I miss her immensely!

      Like

  2. Totally relate with the nicknames. I too was called many names from my family and friends like, “flaca “, “Hicha”, “mami”, “baby”, “fea” and lastly “bobi” (meaning Boba= silly, humble and nieve little girl). It was all out of love and I embraced them all as such. I wonder what God would of named me in replace of these “negative names”?
    Thanks for that inspiration Rosa!
    During this Lent season, may J.O.Y. be with you (J.O.Y. means Jesus shine his love On You)
    Daisy

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Very good question!
    A few names just for you… his friend (John 15:15), his masterpiece (Ephesians 2:10), his daughter (2 Corinthians 6:18), and his treasure (Deuteronomy 7:6).

    Thank you for sharing the J.O.Y!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Anonymous says

    Your post brought back so many memories for me, we also being Hispanic
    ( Mexican ) had the Christmas posadas celebration, going to different homes singing and re creating Joseph and Mary seeking shelter, and at the last house they would give them shelter and the hosts would provide all the pilgrims with, Ponchi de guayaba, tamales and bags of candy and sometimes even a piñata, those memories we cherish, in small town in Mexico the tradition is still alive, as for the nicknames, most of my family have them, mine like yours went from Mamita ( I was the baby for 8 years) to Masita, and to this day my family and all my extended family 240 strong call me Masi for short, and one of my nieces who claims I am her special aunt, nicknamed her daughter Masi, she is 23 years old now, and likes her nickname! So yes, nicknames live on, our generation is all about family, they’re is anything we wouldn’t do for our children, grandchildren and family! Praying the new generations cherish that also! Great blog, so proud of you!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Anna says

    Beautiful memories! I also grew up in a Hispanic home and thankfully had a wonderful loving childhood. I was the baby of the family, the sixth child until my little sister Debbie was born. I was finally an older sister at the age of ten. All my older relatives would tease me that I wouldn’t be the baby anymore I was thrilled I finally would have a baby sister! I have to say those were the good old days! My Mom wasn’t a dancer but my Dad loved to dance and he taught us girls how to dance.

    Liked by 1 person

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