(Diana Limongi’s son, Enzo, celebrating Halloween. Photo/courtesy of Diana Limongi )

The traditions I missed – and the ones I gained – as a child of immigrant parents

My parents were really great about celebrating big holidays.  Growing up, we had cool aunts who would take us trick-or-treating and make Easter eggs with us – all great traditions.

But when you are the child of immigrant parents, there are certain things that you will not experience growing up, some traditions that our parents either didn’t know about, or didn’t approve of.

For example, we never went apple picking– probably because my parents didn’t know it was a thing to do.

We didn’t to go to sleepovers either, (it wasn’t that they didn’t know, it was that we weren’t allowed to).   The one time my mom made an exception (her good friend’s house, whose daughter was my age) I was 10 years old, and we ended up shaving our legs—so never again to sleepovers.

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There are certain things that can be considered “pop culture” that we were not exposed to. For example, I never watched “The Sound of Music” (I still haven’t!) or “The Grinch who Stole Christmas.”

Growing up we didn’t watch the Thanksgiving Day parade on television, and we didn’t have cranberry sauce at Thanksgiving dinner. (Actually, we still don’t!)

While other kids were baking apple pies and making pancakes with their moms, my mom was making Torta de choclo for us – which is very yummy, by the way.

While other kids went to camp, we were sent to Ecuador, where we were enrolled in tennis, swimming, and even grammar and math lessons.

Now that I’m a mom, I want my son to know about all these cool things that I missed out on.

One day we will watch “The Sound of Music” and “The Grinch who stole Christmas” and I promise I will take him apple picking.

But I am struggling with something. While I want my son to experience all the cool stuff I did not do as a child, there are things I have to admit I’m not sure about – like sleepovers or sleepaway camp.

I have to admit, I now understand why I wasn’t allowed to do these things when I was younger. There goes that little pestering voice inside my head again, saying “you will see when you’re a mom!” I see that – I get it.

I was a hot mess at the idea of sending my son to a daycare center where people I did not know would take care of him, so I can’t imagine that I will like the idea of sending him away to the woods with people I don’t know for the whole summer.

There are plenty of things he will be able to do in the summer (travel! grandparents!) that will be way cooler than sleepaway camp, I think. (At least that is what I keep telling myself.)

While there are things I did miss out on growing up, there are definitely things  that I experienced because I was the Hispanic daughter of immigrant parents.

I would never trade all these fun things – big family parties, learning to ride a bike with my cousins in Ecuador, milking cows on a farm in my parents’ home country, and of course all that delicious food and baile!

Looking back, I have to admit I wouldn’t trade the ‘no sleepovers’ rule for the food, the baile and most importantly, the familia with all their traditions that have made my life so rich.

We children of immigrants are living the best of both worlds.

Now that I’m a mom, I hope I do the same for my child.

NBC Latino contributor Diana Limongi

Diana Limongi-Gabriele works hard juggling a full-time job, motherhood, family, grad school and her blog, LadydeeLG, where she writes about issues she is passionate about including teaching her son Spanish, motherhood, parenting, Latino issues, good quality food and women’s issues. Diana is a regular contributor for Mamiverse. She has a MA in Migration Studies, and is pursuing an MPA in Nonprofit Management. Her most important job however, is being mommy to Enzo, a French/Hispanic/American (one day trilingual) 2-year-old boy. You can connect with her via Twitter, @dianalimongi or on Facebook.

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