Father's Day: When Store-Bought Cards Don't Represent Latino Dads

At age 75, my father asserts that he has led (and is still leading) a very full life: good health, a good family and the remarkable ability to recite lines from both Amado Nervo, the 19th-century Mexican poet, and any one of The Godfather Trilogies.

And so, come every Father’s Day, he insists that he doesn’t need any token of appreciation. But still, he is my father and I want to give him a little something to express my gratitude. And that’s when cardstock and markers come out.

Yes, I still make my father homemade Father’s Day cards.

For the past forty some years, I have yet to find or purchase an American Greetings that properly represents my Mexican American dad. As a young girl, I was also the fortunate owner of a 64-count Crayola color box set that, in turn, conditioned me to be very conscious of color and economics at an early age. Did I really want to plunk down $3.99 for the image of an Apricot dad sailing his boat on Cornflower Blue or of a peach-colored father lugging his golf clubs across a country club grass of Forest Green? Of course not.

Equipped with my stockhold of hues, the choices to depict my father’s Brown-ness were endless. Sometimes he was Antique Brass or Atomic Tangerine. Other times, depending on my mood de artisque, he was Copper, Burnt Sienna or Chestnut.

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Every rendition of my father had to, obviously, include Man’s (well Mexican Man’s) best friend. Not the Golden (actually "Canary" colored) Retriever that was featured with Apricot Dad on nearly every one of those manufactured store cards but rather an American Game Bantam - otherwise known as my father’s favorite rooster aka his cash cow. As a kid, I never understood how a rooster could be called a cow.

Nevertheless, almost once month on a Sunday morning and much to my mother’s severe disapproval, my father would gently remove his cash cow from his private coop, gently place him in a carrier box and take him for what he claimed was “a nice Sunday morning drive.” My father would return later in the afternoon – in great spirits and ready to treat the entire family to an early Sunday dinner with all this extra money he “suddenly” had. My mother was always suspicious and unaccepting of just what activity my father's favorite gallo might have participated in to earn the extra income. While she refused to go out to eat with us, my sister and I just couldn’t. In a way, it was Father’s Day - as it was just my father and us.

And that is why on every Father's Day card I always include homage to my father’s dear cash cow, a depiction of his gallo with vibrant colors (Cerise! Electric Lime! Brick Red!) and brilliant plumage. The image easily brings happiness to his face. And, I think the gesture of acceptance makes his life just a little bit fuller.

Michele Serros is an author and former writer for "The George Lopez Show." She is a frequent contributor to NPR. She can be reached via Facebook.


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