A family united is worth its weight in gold. What would have become of me without the support I have received from my family for all these years? What would have become of my children without the support from their grandmas, grandpas, aunts and uncles when I was away on trips during some school function, or when I was recording programs to the point of exhaustion, and they would do me the favor of taking my children to the doctor? That is why I will always feel grateful for my family, and I credit them for much of my success – because they allowed me to fly high knowing that my nest was safe.
To achieve such family unity is not easy. A friend of mine wisely put it: “You can pick your friends, but not your family.” I don’t believe there is anything more dysfunctional than the idea of a family. If you’re not convinced, let me tell you about how we can spend half an hour arguing over what restaurant we want to go to for Sunday dinner. No two human beings are alike. That said, this creates a great conflict that can be maintained only by a Krazy Glue love, full of understanding and anchored in traditions.
Yours, Mine and Ours is the title of a Hollywood comedy that could be considered my love story, and the story of the creation of my household. I brought one daughter, Titi, from my first marriage; my husband Marcos brought a daughter, Fafa, from his first marriage; and together, we had a son, Jon, who helped cement and connect all the pieces as a whole. We all already had something in common and, thus, we could afford the luxury of lowering our guards and accepting each other as we were.
From the beginning, Fafa was my daughter as much as Titi was his and, as a result, all three siblings love us and each other as if we were a 100% true biological family. “Traditions must be ingrained, even if it’s by force,” my father told me passionately once, when I refused to go to the weekly Sunday gathering at my grandparents’ house. With time, I realized how much I’d miss those family moments, and that is why I have taught my children the same traditions.
I’ve always thought that a life well lived is full of fragments of memories that make routines more tolerable: First Communions, baptisms, weddings, grand Thanksgiving tables with Cuban-style turkeys that always taste like pork, and Christmas Eves with pit-roasted pigs in the yard, dancing, mojitos, smiles. With the memories of our loved ones that are no longer with us, we introduce our traditions to new family members who are to be trusted in keeping these traditions alive.
Cristina Saralegui is a seasoned journalist and talk-show host who is recognized as one of the most influential role models for today’s Hispanic woman. TIME named her one of the “25 Most Influential Hispanics in America” in 2005. For more information visit www.facebook.com/CristinaSaralegui and follow her at @CristinaOpina.
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