from a teenage daughter’s point of view
Dad left my mom and us kids several years ago to find work out of the country – we guess he is in the U.S. We aren’t allowed to know exactly where he is, but we talk to him on the phone regularly. It has been hard on all of us to be without him, but we are thankful he arrived there safely. With the money he sends us (remittances) my mom is able to pay the rent every month now, and all of us kids can afford to go to school.
When I talked to my dad recently, he remembered that my fifteenth birthday is coming up in a couple of months. He said he is sending my mom money to give me a nice Quinceanera celebration.
[For those readers who are unfamiliar with it, the following provides a bit of background on a Quinceanera. The revered tradition of Quinceanera has Aztec roots centering around the time that a girl was being prepared for marriage — at about the age of fifteen. Latino cultures continue to embrace this tradition within their communities today. It is a merging of a religious ceremony and a social/fiesta “coming of age” event on the occasion of a girl’s fifteenth birthday. On this day the girl is uplifted and formally welcomed into adult life by her entire community while she reaffirms her commitment to both her faith and to her community. Two of the traditions I personally found interesting relate to the doll and shoes. After she has celebrated Mass and is at her party, the birthday girl will often give her doll to a younger female family member to symbolize her transition from childhood to adulthood. “Walking” ahead in life is further illustrated by the girl wearing flats to her party which her father removes placing high heels on her feet to wear when she leaves the celebration. ]
My friend down the street celebrated her Quinceanera last month. After her Mass at church, her family hosted the nicest fiesta. She wore such a beautiful pink dress and was surrounded by a court of our friends. The whole community came to help her celebrate with a very large cake and lots of roasted beef and tamales.
Ever since my dad told me I could have a party, I’ve been excitedly including my friends to plan my special day. One of my friends immediately went on-line to a website devoted entirely to Quinceanera planning. There are stores here that sell only supplies for this occasion, too. My head is spinning with all the items one can get including the dress, tiara, pillow, scepter, Bible, rosary, cross, jewelry, money bag, and champagne glasses, invitations, flowers, paper products, guestbook, thank you scrolls, “last doll,” – and oh, FOOD! At the bottom of the site, viewers are encouraged to “S-T-R-E-T-C-H your budget for your celebration.”
As much as all those things can appeal to any young girl’s dreams, I remind myself that my dad did not risk life and limb hiking through dangerous terrain with an unknown coyote who we paid $10,000 to get him across several borders in order to send money back to be used extravagantly. He sacrifices for us every single day and we need to use the remittances he sends us wisely.
I thought a lot about the money that went into one day and made a decision. My friend offered to let me borrow her dress, and a group of us are going to make our own simple snacks that day. We’ll invite just immediate family and our closest friends. It will be a “no gift” event, just a day to come and enjoy one another. I’d rather use that money toward my education.