For our last issue of the year and with the New Year around the corner, Tribuna went out to the streets and asked readers their thoughts on the holiday season. For some, 2016 was a year taken over by divides, tensions and uncertainty. But for most, as you will read in our cover story, hope stands strong and waits a 2017 full of promise.
Hope, by definition, is a feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen. However, as many of us who share an immigrant experience know, hope is a feeling of expectation and desire that propels action, fueled by sacrifice that allows you to make your own future.
About 22 years ago my parents, propelled by hope, took action and set off to a far land to give their family the possibility of a future limited only by our own effort. The beginning of our lives in the U.S. was difficult. I remember vividly our first trip to the supermarket during which my mother, after cleaning a few houses for the first time, told us with pride in her voice and bracing her aching back with her hands, that we were allowed to get whatever we wanted.
We then pushed the full shopping cart to our apartment off Main Street and returned it empty to the store. My father would came home from work covered in concrete dust, his eyes red. On his was was a tired smile after seeing what we had done. He got cleaned up, we had dinner, and then they were off to their night shift cleaning a supermarket as we, the kids, waited in the car.
It was only after over a decade of waiting for legalization that we were finally able to visit my father’s village back in Brazil. It was then that we saw the hope that fueled their actions, their sacrifice. My father is from a village that today has 5,000 residents hidden deep in the state of Minas Gerais. All have access to one school, one hospital that feels and looks more like a clinic, some paved streets, a town square, a few churches and a few businesses. Most people live on less than $300 a month. Every opportunity — anything beyond what the village has to offer — sits miles and miles away.
Today, after years of sacrifice, our family is able to offer hope to the children of the village. On the second week of December, I went down to my father’s village with our family to participate in what has become a tradition: host a Christmas party for 450 kids. There are pictures with Santa, hot dogs, hamburgers, cotton candy, popcorn, trampolines, and a couple of hours when kids can just be kids. Hope was personified in their smiles as they met Santa, jumped, ate and ran – and in their parents’ eyes joy-filled eyes.
So on this holiday season our wish is hope, an expectation and desire that propels action, fueled by sacrifice that allows you to make your own future. In the words of American actor Bradley Whitford, “Infuse your life with action. Don’t wait for it to happen. Make it happen. Make your own future. Make your own hope. Make your own love. And whatever your beliefs, honor your creator, not by passively waiting for grace to come down from upon high, but by doing what you can to make grace happen… yourself, right now, right down here on Earth.”
Happy holidays to all and a new year filled with hope!