I can say with confidence that my Mexican-American heritage shaped who I am today. Over the years I’ve travelled to Mexico countless times, faced racism from peers and become more proficient in my second language. However, one of the greatest takeaways of growing up in a Hispanic family can be witnessed on any given Saturday morning in the Sumano household.
Starting around 8 a.m., the sounds of mariachi begin to emanate from a small speaker in the living room. There is no need for an alarm when you have the soft strings and silky vocals of Los Panchos to wake you. One by one, my brother, my father and myself would file into the living room bleary-eyed and go through the motions of becoming functional human beings for the day.
My mom would always start these mornings off by cooking a family breakfast. The sound of onions and tomatoes hitting a hot pan add to the cacophony of music and rising bodies in the house. While my mom cooks huevos rancheros, my dad would start a pot of coffee. The vegetables and coffee fight for my attention, each smell hitting me in waves.
In my mind, hot tortillas fresh of the comale, steamy eggs and black coffee are like nectar and ambrosia. There are few other ways to properly fuel your day.
Breakfast was always followed by cleaning the house. My dad handled the laundry and my mom dusted the counter tops and mopped the floor. There’s something almost ritualistic about pouring Fabuloso into a mop bucket. The smell of the floor cleaner would cut through the chaos of sauteed veggies, eggs and coffee, indicating a change in the stage of the morning.
To be honest I never really helped much with the cleaning. I vacuumed the carpet in the basement and would proceed to sit around the house, reading and watching as my mom scrubbed the kitchen floor. Luckily, I did not have to face the wrath incurred by such laziness that most Latino children would receive.
My brother and I would gradually make our way downstairs to sit in front of the blue glow of the TV and play video games for hours on end. Eventually my dad would find his way down as well, turning on the morning news on some Spanish-language TV station.
Regardless of what our plans were for the day, Saturday mornings always had their place in the routine. Though it may not seem like much, it was extremely valuable. Even this small amount of time spent with my family was enough to elicit life-long gratitude and a deep-seeded reverence for my family.
The idea of family is a tenet of Mexican culture. Though we may occasionally be at odds, my family is a pillar in my life that I don’t have away from home. I can always look back on these Saturdays and be brought home to the smell of sauteed onions and the sounds of Los Panchos.