Celebrating my heritage with my children
Last Friday, after a long week of working hard (as usual), I decided to follow my friends and their families to a night of celebration that occurs each third Friday of the month. It took place at the Little Haiti Cultural Centers in the heart of Miami Florida. I was aware of the center’s existence and have maybe passed by it a few times, but never entered. This time was different. I wanted to show my children a good time as I had when I was their age. Going as a family to listen and dance to live music, eat good food, and just be is something I always enjoy. Now the test was to see if the not-so-little people would enjoy it the same… Would they embrace this part of their heritage?
We carpooled with one of the ladies and her family and together we all enjoyed conversation the whole way to the party. The mood was light and there was a sense of relaxation. We were going to not only share a good time with the kids, but we were going to teach them about the country where their parents came from, Haiti.
When we got to the Center, the music had already started and other friends were there to meet us to help celebrate the end of the week and some good times together. The kids looked a bit lost at first as there were many people already there. We made our way to the rest of the group and we went to visit the center itself where Folklore classes were in session and art was exposed. Folklore is a Haitian dance usually done to the beat of drums, but not limited to that type of music. It is very colorful dance and the movements, though somewhat exaggerated at times, are smooth and enchanting. The kids were mesmerized …
The courtyard is where the live music and presentations were happening. People were waiting for the band to show up. In the meantime, on the stage, a couple presented a beautiful salsa number. Oh! That was simply beautiful and very well performed! They were in sync and all the movements looked so fluid. It almost felt like they were one and that was all happening in water like two scarves in a pool… Beautiful!
Finally the band came up and started readying the instruments. The star was there too, waiting for his band to get situated. People came up to him to take pictures of him and for the first time, with an endearing smile, I saw a sign of aging on his face. You see, this was someone I had been following and enjoying since I was a teenager. I remember the first song from his group when it came out. I remember how the country reacted to that group and how much I danced to those early tunes. That was over 20 years ago… I date myself… Nonetheless, there was something sweet about remembering this time and to see that signer there started bringing back memories of when back home, we would swarm him for autographs and pictures. I smiled…
What a pleasure that was to spend time with my children enriching their knowledge of their heritage!
The band was ready, the food was ready, and the crowd was ready! Yes, there was Haitian food there too!!! My goodness, this was some serious meal! It came with all bells and whistles. The line was super long, but as the tunes started, the line would dance. It was almost as if everybody got a signal to start moving with the first note. Hands went up in front of the stage, hands were up at the food line too. Kids, parents, young, old, we were all enveloped in the blanket of great tunes that would warm our hearts. I saw my children dance to the music as everybody around them and enjoying too. At first, I could see some hesitation in their faces, but the dropped the “self-conscious” baggage right off to the side and forgot about it altogether. They were having a good time. Little people were zipping through the center on the side between the center and the courtyard having a great time. The ones who were familiar to the tunes from their inception had those dreamy eyes of reminiscence and were swaying to the music looking as if they were floating. Yeah, we were floating alright! The air was just right with a breeze from time to time, the smell of the food was divine, and the company could not have been better.
It all ended around 10pm which gave us the time to go back home at a decent time. This was the end of the week, we needed to rest. This was a perfect end to a perfect evening. The kids were very excited about their experience and were ready to come back next month.
What a pleasure that was to spend time with my children enriching their knowledge of their heritage! I consider this a blessing and will continue to foster this wholesome leisurely family time as much as I can.
Always in the Faith!