This year as my family sits around the dinner table for the holidays, I am reminded of the generations that have brought us to this very moment to where we are in “Jingle Town," East Oakland. We gather around our grandmother’s food to live, laugh, and love. We all have a role, we each have our story, and we all recognize the journey to leave this space a better place.
My “abuelas" raised us; María de la Luz Sandoval Aguilar and María Concepción Borja Cabrera. I have grown to realize my responsibility and passion in keeping our traditions and medicine alive. A gift given to us, as community, passed down through generations of how to live with the world around us. We are all responsible for our individual actions and the reality is that it is going to take all of us — you, me, and the community — to create solutions for personal, local, and global change.
As my family finishes our meal and our gathering comes to an end, we close the circle with appreciations, hugs, and of course the invitation to come back tomorrow to do it all over again — the “Recalentada”. Nothing goes to waste with my grandmothers — especially food — as leftovers will be transformed and reheated for the traditional second gathering. I grew up not only with the best food (yes, grandma’s food is the best) but with a culture and traditions deeply rooted in a resourceful global perspective on an individual and communal level. Grandma’s class is always in session and we will be making turkey enchiladas for tomorrow.
By this time, you would think we would have all our grandma’s secret recipes down. The real magic comes from the love she shares throughout the process. A process filled with teachings and stories of resilience that have helped shape my truth, and my identity. I am grounded by my family’s generational journey and as long as there is some of “abuelita’s” salsa in the reused tub of margarine to share, all is well.
Sitting at the table, surrounded by family, and the smell of home-cooked food reminds me of the importance of getting back to the basics, reconnecting to who I am; my truth, my story, to lead by example and bring people along with me. A healthy individual creates a healthy family, which creates a healthy community. Abuela feeds us and warms us with traditions, it’s a strong reminder that it takes a community to raise a child. I am my ancestor’s wildest dreams.
Cristian Aguilar is a Program Services Specialist at StopWaste, working with the Schools Team.