Tradition. Tradición. It's what keeps my culture- any culture- alive. Identifying myself as a "family girl," there's nothing that makes me happier than participating in the Figueroa traditions. Like most Puerto Ricans, we find any reason to party (and drink!). We held one of our many Figueroa traditions this past Father's Day. My Chicago-raised parents moved into their first home together in the northwestern suburbs 23 years ago on Father's Day weekend. In their mind, or rather, my father's mind, why not kill two birds with one stone and celebrate Father's Day and have a house warming?! Better yet, let's invite everyone and their momma, their tíos, abuelos, cuñadas...all of them! Every year since then my parents have thrown what I consider to be the BEST summer BBQ/Housewarming/Father's Day/Birthday party ever! It gets crazy, and like my dad always says, "It's not over 'till we say it's over!" At the crack of dawn, my momma is slaying away cleaning the entire house and cooking until her fingers fall off, while my dad is busy power washing the deck and setting up canopies in the backyard to the tunes of Tito Nieves (his celebrity crush…I'm serious)! By the afternoon, everyone shows up with a dish or something to share, eats (and eats some more,) drinks (and drinks some more...and some more...) and parties all night! My favorite part is when Papi starts the fire at night and my mom - the legendary and forever famous Girl Scout troop leader - busts out the marshmallows and Hershey's chocolate for some s'mores. Don't you just love the fire crackling and melting marshmallows?!?
This brings me to another tradition that's been going on for years. Yep! You guessed it-CAMPING! And no, not in a pop-up camper, or a cabin or a 5-star hotel. Nope! Camping...in a tent! Outside! Under the stars! Okay, so maybe we prefer the campsites with running water, electricity and clean showers, but still...it's camping all right. I'm getting excited just thinking about it, especially because our first trip of the year is coming up in a couple weeks. My family has camped in many different places and one of our favorites as kids (my brother and I) was Yogi Bear Campground in Millbrook, Illinois. If you haven't been, check it out! For the past 10 years, however, we've switched it up to Holiday Shores Campground and Resort (not really a resort though). In just a few days, I'll be going through the 10 page list that my wonderful momma has put together for me and getting everything ready. This year, we get to add a couple of new members to this family tradition: my loving boyfriend and his 5 year-old daughter. It was a big deal for my dad to invite him to come. You know how Puerto Rican fathers can be. We're all sleeping in the same tent, but guess who's sleeping smack next to my Papi? ;)
I'm sure it'll be a good time, and my mom has, of course, put together a "fun pack" for the little momma so she won't be bored. Man I love my momma! No one like her! I can only hope that one day, I'll get to be as great as my momma and carry on these traditions to my own family for generations to come. As I always say, family is forever. Familia es para siempre.