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Here Are 20 Things That Will Make A Latino Dad Cry Every Time

Like a lot of Latino dads, mine always kept a tough exterior. He was raised to be impenetrable, just as his father had been raised and so on. But that doesn’t mean he never shed a few tears.

There’s something about seeing your dad cry that simultaneously breaks your heart and freaks you out, and in some cases makes you laugh. Here are 20 things that bring a tough dad to tears, without fail.

1. Mariachi music

monterreysmyrna / Instagram

It’s over the second the strings start on “Amor Eterno,” also known as the most beautiful and heartbreaking song ever invented. It causes immediate weeping into a bottle of Pacífico.

2. Seeing his baby or grandbaby for the first time

themewys / Instagram

Nothing like a tiny angelic baby made of his own blood to reduce a grown man to tears.

3. His fútbol team losing

Muchachitas/Televisa

Yup. The second the goal-winning score went to the other team it was the 7 stages of grief. “Noooo! No puede ser!” inevitably leads to light sobbing ,and then “estos cabrones siempre te dejan decepcionados.”

4. His fútbol team winning

Tears happen in agony and ecstasy. And seeing his beloved team win a major match always brings on the happy tears. It’s pretty cute.

5. A particularly heartfelt round of saying what you’re thankful for during Thanksgiving dinner

greyferraz / Instagram

The second the words “I’m thankful for my children and wife” come out of him, bye. Gone. Olvídalo. He loses it, and it’s really sweet because it shows his tender side.

6. His baby graduating

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This. Right. Here. Seeing your dad sob almost uncontrollably just because he’s so happy for you is the greatest, most freakiest thing ever. Everyone is gonna be crying. You accomplished something major that will bring you opportunities that maybe he didn’t have. He’s proud and he’s not afraid to show it.

7. Your Mom

Maria la del Barrio/Televisa

Whether he loves her or hates her, or even a little bit of both, the passion is there and he’ll cry angry tears, sad tears and/or happy tears when he gets started on her. Your mom has a lot of power of his tear ducts. And yeah, tequila is usually involved.

8. His mom

Muchachitas/Televisa

It doesn’t matter how old he is. Latino dads are always and forever a mama’s boy, and your abuelita, whether she is alive or passed, will always set him crying. He may be remembering her, or perhaps he’s disappointed her in some way. Whatever the case, abuelita and your mom can make a dad cry real quick.

9. His dad.

Un Hombre Llamado EL Diablo/Producciones Matouk

Whether they have a close bond or have a very strained relationship, his dad has a way of reducing your tough papi into the little boy he once was. Something about a grandfather’s words has a way of cutting into your dad deep.

10. His parents showing you love.

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Sometimes parents raise their kids in a way that feels cold and too harsh. It can be a pretty old school way of raising kids, to not say I love you, show physical affection, or spend quality time. So when your dad sees his parents give you, the grandbaby, lots of love and hugs it has a way of making him cry with both happiness and sadness.

11. Tequila

MexMoonshine / Instagram

Tequila brings out all the feelings. All of them. Any alcohol really. Alcohol gets all the dads weeping over something. That something can be any of the above, or something totally different. But the song “Tragos de Amargo Licor” was created for a reason, and that reason is because dads cry when they’re drunk.

12. During a speech

Amores Perros/Lionsgate

Good luck trying to get a few sweet words outta that guy without his voice starting to warble or full on tears coming out. It doesn’t matter the occasion. When he raises a glass, it’s countdown to tears o’clock.

13. Making his little girl’s dream come true

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When a dad works hard, maybe a multiple jobs, just to support his family, so when you land that great job or get into your dream school it will reach him all the way in the heart,

14. The Notebook

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No one – NO ONE – can make it through this stupid tearjerker of a movie without shedding a tear. I’ve seen the most badass of tios fall to pieces seeing Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams fall in love, and then their older counterparts pass away.

15. A particularly thoughtful gift

You work hard, and have had opportunities to do well in life because of all the hard work and sacrifices your parents gave you. So when you’re finally able to spoil them and give them a sweet present, dad isn’t going to make it. He’s gonna fall apart, in the best way possible.

16. Seeing you all dressed up for something special

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Whether it’s your wedding day, a school dance, or another special occasion, seeing you in your beautiful dress, hair and makeup it reminds him that his little girl is growing up. And that will cause a few tears.

17. Buying you the thing you didn’t think he could afford

Dos Mujeres Un Camino/Canal de las Estrellas

Your mami and papi’s hard work didn’t always mean a house full of luxuries. They had to support their family, which means nice extras might not be easy to come by. But when he knows how much it means to you, dad (and mami too, of course!) will somehow make it happen. And seeing the joy in your face will drive him to tears.

18. When you get married

Julie Graham Photography / Abbey Ramirez-Bodley / Facebook

Oh girl, it is over. Walking you done the aisle and doing the father/daughter dance will leave him wrecked.

19. Seeing you suffer

Dos Mujeres Un Camino/Canal de las Estrellas

Our dads want to protect us from everything, so when things go wrong in our lives, whether we’ve been hurt, get really sick, or something else bad happens, they feel like they’ve failed you. Even though it’s not their fault. But that will make a daddy hurt for his baby.

20. Coco

Disney Pixar Coco

It isn’t just “The Notebook” that’ll do it. “Coco” makes us all a weepy mess, and that includes out dads who might relate to the story in some way. “Coco” will make us all lose it, but seeing your dad cry too especially strikes a chord.

Whatever the reason, seeing your dad cry is something you never forget. Latino dads catch the feels hard, and luckily you’re there to give him a hug when he needs it.


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Día De Los Reyes Was The First Time I Allowed My S.O. To Experience My Culture

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Día De Los Reyes Was The First Time I Allowed My S.O. To Experience My Culture

For many who regularly take part in the holiday season, Christmas traditions are strongly tied to religious beliefs and practices. The ways in which the customs around the holiday season are carried out often deeply rooted in cultural rituals and they often vary from family to family. For my Puerto Rican family, the holiday season is drawn out well past the first of January when radio stations reel back on the jingles and Mariah Carey classics. For us, the Twelve Days Of Christmas sales or songs we know of don’t relate to the days leading up to December 25, but rather the twelve days in between Christmas Day and January 6 The Epiphany, a biblical day that marks the final leg of the  Three Wise Men’s journey to deliver gold, frankincense and myrrh to Jesus Christ.

Día De Los Reyes has always been an especially important day for my family. The fact that “reyes” is my mother’s maiden name has only made the day a little sweeter.

Photo provided by Wandy Felicita Ortiz

A more popular holiday back on the island, my abuela and abuelo Reyes brought their traditions to the mainland with them in the 1950s.

On the evening of January 5, each member of my family from grandfather to my youngest sobrino pull out cardboard shoe and clothing boxes (all marked with our names, drawn on and decorated over the years with crayons, markers, and glitter pens) to take part in a tradition that we hold dear in our hearts. After we’ve filled the boxes with snacks like carrots, lettuce, and sometimes grass for the Three Kings’ camels to munch on as they pass through our town we stick the boxes under our beds. Finally, just as we would with Santa Claus, we write the Three Kings–Los Reyes–a handwritten note wishing them safe travels as the journey to see the baby Jesus hoping that as they did with him on that first Epiphany, they’ll leave a small gift or token of some sort under our boxes.

Dia De Los Reyes functions similarly to Christmas Eve in my family. We all wake up and check under our boxes to see if we were good enough this year to receive any gifts. We’d go to mass together, where as kids we’d hope that maybe Los Reyes stayed in town with their camels long enough that day to be at the church community center to pose for photos. We would visit family and eat pernil and arroz con gandules, dishes reserved for celebrations and holidays.

As I got older I went to mass only sometimes and stopped looking to get my photos with Los Reyes.

Photo provided by Wandy Felicita Ortiz

I never stopped checking my box for gifts though, or remembering each rey by the names older relatives taught me to write in my letters: Balthasar, Melchior, and Gaspar. As an adult I focused on new ways to celebrate “being a king,” as my family would say, and took on the role of expert coquito maker.

When I started dating and began wanting to bring boyfriends home for the holidays, part of my new role during the holiday season also unintentionally became one of both gatekeeper and teacher of my Puerto Rican culture. As a sophomore in college, I brought my then boyfriend home for December for the first time. In my household, Noche Buena, Christmas Day, New Years Day, New Year’s Eve, and Dia De Los Reyes were all days set aside for family, exclusively. I knew not to ask for exceptions, and in the past had willfully or grudgingly passed up holiday and New Years parties to honor the expectation of being en familia.

But in my twenties I badly started to yearn for my first New Years kiss and wanted, even more, to share part of my twelve days of Christmas with somebody who mattered to me.

My parents, on the other hand, were hesitant. Dia De Los Reyes was about Los Reyes, as in my family.

My boyfriend was someone they saw a few times a year and knew of only from phone calls, letters, texts, and video chats. Someone so unfamiliar certainly wasn’t considered family, and moreover someone who wasn’t Latino couldn’t possibly understand the sanctity of the day we’d honored so lovingly all our lives.

Most concerning of all, Dia De Los Reyes is also known among some circles as “the poor man’s Christmas,” my grandparents’ explanation being that back in the days of Jesus, being a king didn’t mean wealth like it means today. It meant that the giftschildren and observers receive in their boxes today are small, like a $10 gift card, socks, some mittens, or maybe candy. The last thing my family needed was for some guy they didn’t know to reach into an old shoebox of all things, pull out socks, and think we were cheap. With some convincing and a little grumbling, my family allowed me to write my boyfriend’s name on a box, fill it with lettuce and put it under my bed on January 5.

That night as I lay in bed, I did feel nervous knowing that I was bringing somebody into such a special part of my life that no one had ever seen before outside of my parents. Earlier in the day, I made sure to explain to him how seriously my family took our family only traditions, and how it wasn’t just about the religious holiday but the namesake that ties us to one another. I felt silly as I highlighted decorating beat-up boxes as one of my favorite traditions, something I hadn’t ever admitted out loud. Quiet and reserved, he listened to my stories but didn’t ask any questions.

In the morning, I still had my family only morning mass and our opening of gifts, but later that day my boyfriend was invited over for pasteles, coquito, and the checking of his first and only Three Kings Day box.

My parents observed with critical eyes as he went through the motions of our traditions, seeming charmed by the gifts of a hat and gloves left resting on top of torn up shreds of lettuce, proof that Los Reyes had come through our house. As he followed our lead I sat hoping that by participating in the events himself, he might better understand where my love for my culture comes from, or maybe even briefly feel the same sense of childhood joy I do on that day each year. Admittedly, it was an awkward day for everyone involved and not filled with all the magic I had hoped for. Nonetheless, I still felt proud of myself for being able to break down a barrier that had long existed between myself and not only romantic connections but a friend, too.

I wanted the opportunity to show those outside of my family the part of my identity that I hadn’t always made transparent in my daily life, even if that meant that they didn’t understand or wouldn’t “get it” at first.

Photo provided by Wandy Felicita Ortiz

Even though the person who got to take the test run of my family only traditions and I aren’t together anymore, a few years ago he broke the mold for being able to bring others into a part of my life I was using to shutting so many close to me out of.n Maybe he did think that of us, our gifts, or the day we celebrate as cheap, but after the fact I, didn’t care. In the years that have followed, what has mattered most to me has been that I could start sharing Reyes, this name that laid down the foundation to who I am before I was ever born, and all the nuances that come with it with those I want to know me better.

This Dia De Los Reyes will be one of a few Reyes family festivities that my current boyfriend will be participating in, and another year where my family pulls out his box and welcomes his extra cheer into our holidays. While he’s still learning about my roots, I’m still learning that I can take these moments and use them to bring myself closer to my culture and my loved ones.


Read: Twitter’s Latest Hashtag Fights Back Against The Normalization Of Death And Violence Against Migrant Youth

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How My Parents Made Christmas Special Even Though We’re Atheists

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How My Parents Made Christmas Special Even Though We’re Atheists

I don’t remember when I first learned about the connection between Christmas and the birth of Jesus Christ but I would guess that I was much older than most kids. Growing up, my family celebrated Christmas just like almost everyone else we knew with one big difference: We were atheists, so there was no mention of “our Lord Jesus Christ,” his birth, the nativity scene or the Three Wise Men. In fact, everything I know that is associated with Christmas in my family has nothing to do with the “Christ” in Christmas.

For as long as I can remember my family has happily celebrated Christmas despite being atheists and growing up in an atheist state.

My father comes from Cuba and my mother is from Russia. I spent most of my childhood living in one country or the other, both of which were officially communist in the 80s and therefore had no recognized religion. In fact, unlike in the United States of America where religious freedom is guaranteed by the First Amendment of the Constitution, Cuba upheld state atheism until 1992. This means that the “socialist state… bases its activity on, and educates the people in, the scientific materialist concept of the universe.” There was no religion and religion wasn’t recognized. In fact, in the 1960s, shortly after Fidel Castro took power, the Cuban government imprisoned countless Catholic clergy and confiscated Catholic schools.

That’s the environment that my papi grew up in, so his family was atheist just like the rest of the Cuban people had to be. Both my abuelo and abuela were also scientifically-minded people. They had PhDs in mathematics and they encouraged similar pursuits in their children: My dad became an engineer, my uncle a doctor and my aunt a biochemist.

There are a lot of Cubans who hid their religion from the government, but that was never my family. We were always atheist.

So when my parents met, nothing much changed. My mom was agnostic (having also grown up in state atheism) and rarely set foot in a church, though she did have me baptized when I was born. Still, Christmas celebrations in our house were primarily secular.

Before we moved to the United States of America when I was eight years old, we celebrated Noche Buena and New Year’s Eve with all of the same Christmas traditions that most people know: An evergreen fir tree decorated with twinkly lights, lots of sparkly balls and a star on top. We exchanged presents (that came from a version of Santa Claus) and had the entire over for a big dinner. What we didn’t do is say grace, mention Jesus or go to church.

Honestly, I’m not even sure what else I missed out on because my family doesn’t believe in Jesus — and that’s because my Christmases were always filled with such joy and wonder that I never felt like I was missing out on anything at all.

I have a million tiny memories of the special Christmases my parents gave to me and my younger brother, and one particularly tough Christmas that turned out to be pretty great, too. There are countless memories I have of helping my mami in the kitchen, either preparingmoros y cristianos arroz, flan and platanitos maduros fritos. Those memories are always accompanied by the warm memories of my family gathered around a Christmas table, feasting and happily arguing about whatever it was that we were arguing about that year.

These Christmas memories have nothing to do with religion and everything to do with family.

Now that I am an adult, not much has changed. My family, despite having escaped the communist regime of Cuba and now happily living in the United States which was built on the idea of “religious freedom” are still mostly atheist or agnostic. We’re not the only ones, either.

Although I’ve only met two kinds of Cubans for my entire life, those who are atheist like my family or those who are heavily Catholic (and had to hide it during Castro’s regime), Latinxs, in general, are embracing atheism and non-religion in growing numbers. According to a study by the Pew Research Center, 77 percent of U.S. Latinos identify as Christian. However, young Latinos are leaving Catholicism (which accounts for 48% of Christian Latinos), according to NBC News. The latest Pew Poll found that Latinx millennials ages 18-29 who are unaffiliated with a religion are growing in numbers, said Jessica Martinez who authored a Pew study on the topic in 2014.

Although my family was never religious, I can relate to those who are leaving the church today. When my now-atheist husband, who grew up Catholic, tells me childhood stories of going to church on Christmas eve, saying grace and taking communion, I just can’t relate. But I can relate to the overall feeling of Christmas and the holidays: The joy of smelling mom’s first batch of baked goods this season. The fun of playing “Home Alone” in the background as the family gathers around to trim the tree. Secretly shaking presents under the tree to see if we could figure out what they were before we were allowed to open them at midnight on Noche Buena.

And that’s what I hope to teach my kids someday about Christmas, in a secular way: That we can spend enjoying the holidays and time with family above all.

After all, every family has their own Christmas traditions. My family traditions were just a bit more unusual than those of others, with less Jesus and more cookies. But my parents still communicated the spirit of the holidays to me growing up, despite being atheists themselves. It was all about the beauty and wonder of this season, about caring for our fellow human beings by taking part in charitable acts and lots of time spent with the ones I loved.


Read: My Son Never Met My Abuela, But This Recipe Keeps Her Memory Alive

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