1. You have been called pocho.
Since you’re an American-born Mexican, you’ve adopted certain traits that have led some native born Mexicans to feel you are ‘less Mexican,’ or ‘pocho.’ (But to Americans, you’re just Mexican.) You’ve learned to embrace the word pocho because it symbolizes your journey as both Mexican and American — a person who is all at once completely both, yet uniquely neither.
2. “Family gatherings” were really “epic celebrations.”
Growing up, every family member both near and far was invited to the party, no matter what the party was for. The celebrations always included delicious carnitas y arroz con frijoles and once the party really started going it would always end with blasted rancheras, a late-night rendition of “Volver” by Vicente Fernandez and someone doing “el grito.”
3. You still shudder at the thought of El Cucuy.
Growing up you learned the typical American superstitions — don’t walk under a ladder and don’t cross a black cat. But the ones your family told you were much more intricate. It didn’t strike you until recently that you could actually point at a rainbow or that pregnant women didn’t really need to wear a safety pin during an eclipse. Your parents even convinced you that if you smiled at a baby without touching it immediately afterward, the Mal de Ojo would make the baby sick.
4. Everything can pretty much be cured with Vaporú.
Who needs medicine when you have VapoRub? It was used to remedy everything from acne and sore muscles to tired feet and burns. And when it didn’t work, there was always Manzanilla and Yerba Buena, which your family always grew in the backyard. And when none of those worked, it was mama’s caldo de pollo and a good “sana, sana, colita de rana…” that did the trick.
5. You throw random Spanish words into English sentences.
Spanglish is the primary language spoken at home and it’s perfectly normal to start a conversation with your parents in English only to have it end in Spanish. Because let’s face it, some words are just better expressed in Spanish. Like: legañas (eye goop), compadre (father of my godchild), antear (day before yesterday), sobremesa (that special time after a meal is complete and everyone continues to sit around the table and chat).
6. All the magic of Christmas happens on Noche Buena.
And really, Christmas day is just an ordinary day for you. The feast of Noche Buena (the Good Night) has always been the centerpiece of your Christmas celebration. Your family’s dinner table is always lined with tamales, pozole, postres and Mexican hot chocolate, all meant to be shared with close family, friends and distant relatives. If you close your eyes you can still hear the chatter of your whole family, sitting around the table with the masa, carne and hojas spread out. You all construct tamales while sharing family stories. Your family would stay up until midnight, legañas fresh in their eyes, to wish each other Feliz Navidad and watch as all the children open their gifts. Your excitement as you unwrap your presents was only second to the joy of unwrapping the real Christmas gift, homemade tamales around the table. And on Christmas day…rest.
7. You know you’ll never get rid of your Spanish nickname.
Everyone has one and they’re never flattering. Gordon, flaca, panzón, vieja… And even if gordo was a phase you grew out of, you know that particular term of endearment is there to stay.
8. Your birthday always ended with your face smashed in the cake.
Every birthday started out just fine with a piñata, carnitas, and the birthday song. But as soon as the song was over and your family started chanting “mordida” you knew it was over.
9. Religion is deeply engrained into your everyday life.
Whether you grew up religious or not, your Mexican traditions are so tied with religion that spirituality is just a part of how you were raised. Whether it was getting blessed by your tia before a long trip, your padrinos basically being a part of your family, or the rosary that always hung from your parent’s rearview mirror, these traditions formed a huge part of your childhood — even if your parent’s weren’t particularly “religious.”
10. Telenovelas and noticias were always a part of your evening routine.
Your parents got their daily news from Univision and their talk show of choice was Cristina. If they weren’t watching las noticias, then the whole family was engrossed in the newest episode of Rubí or Dos Mujeres un Camino with Erik Estrada.
11. Your throat still burns from the salsa your mom made two years ago.
Nothing cleared your household like when your mom would toast chiles for salsa. Your throat would burn, your eyes would water and you would cough like you were being poisoned. Your parents would open every door in the house but the smoke detector would still sound. It was all worth it once you dipped that first Santita into the salsa.
12. You miss the neighborhood street food almost as much as you miss your mom’s cooking.
The only dishes that can rival your mom’s cooking come from a local cart or the neighborhood food truck. While your mom’s salsa can turn any Mexican dish into a tortilla wrapped slice of heaven, the elotes from the local corn man sure come close. With the perfect amount of mayonnaise, cotija cheese, and chile powder, all is right with the world.
13. Your parents always knew exactly where you were.
Growing up, your parents were strict and insisted on being involved in every aspect of your life. They needed to know all your friends and they had all of those friends’ parents on speed dial. You still feel bad for that first boyfriend you brought home to meet your father.
14. There was always a two-week supply of tortillas in your refrigerator.
Your family bought tortillas by the 80 count to get you through the week, it didn’t matter that there were only five people in the house. Tortillas were served alongside every meal and they could even be heated with some melted butter for a quick snack. Growing up, your family was a “Guerrero” family and you secretly judged those families that preferred “Mission.”