Although Sacre is half Cuban and half Irish and as such chronicles mostly Mexican-American customs, the stories and customs in My Name is Cool tells are universal and can be appreciated by families of all backgrounds.
In celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month (September 15 through October 15), try some of these fun family activities to get the whole family in the spirit!
In “Swimming with Barracudas,” Sacre writes:
I loved the sounds of those three women cooking in the kitchen: chopping, talking, laughing, yelling, and the little sound of the pressure cooker tic-tic-ticking away...
At about noon every day, the whole family would gather at [my grandmother’s] table: my aunt and uncle and cousins from next door, my other uncle and his family from down the street, and often some of the neighbors. It was a huge feast every day.
For Sacre, staying close to his heritage was as simple as having meals with his family. Of course, these times that his family spent gathered around a table together were more than meals – they were experiences.
Celebrating Spanish customs can be as easy as getting the whole family together for a meal! Family meals are perfect opportunities for families to remind each other who they are and where they come from, to keep their old memories and customs alive while creating new ones.
In “Leprechaun’s Gold,” Sacre notes that “If you don’t pass [stories] along, they turn to dust in your head and then they are gone.” To Sacre and his family, letting go of a family’s stories was like letting go of their very identity. By telling and retelling stories, on the other hand, family tradition is guaranteed to stay alive and cultural traditions are perpetuated.
Telling stories is a great way to celebrate customs. Gather the kids around and recite either classic children’s tales or personal family stories that everyone can appreciate. If you can, get the whole family involved and maybe even have the kids act out scenes. Before you know it, everyone will be participating and having a good time!
Though he fought it when he was younger, Sacre came to embrace the Spanish language as a part of who he was. For him, Spanish became a crucial aspect of his identity, and he was not himself without it.