For Latinos in America, it’s a New Year’s Eve custom that often leaves our “gringo” guests baffled. “Why are you shoving 12 grapes in your mouth in rapid succession,” my wife Suzanne would ask when she first celebrated New Year’s Eve under the watchful eye of my mother Adela?
What will good fortune represent for Latinos in America this year? It begins and ends with Donald Trump.
If it were a Seinfeld episode, my mother would be the “grape Nazi” when it comes to this ritual, which dates back to Spain toward the end of the 1800s. Heaven help anyone who dares not eat or skip a grape in her presence. Mom instilled that in us as children to the point where I was convinced that if I dropped a grape – say, grape number three – then I would be struck down in March, the third month of the year.
Imagine staying inside for the whole month of March for fear that something bad was going to happen to you because you skipped a grape on New Year’s. Silly, yes — but you must understand that this 12 grapes thing is as much a celebration as it is a superstition. And to my mom, it was actually more of the latter.
Yes, eating the 12 grapes was a requisite for us each year, and what made it so difficult was the fact that we were also too poor to afford seedless grapes. That meant trying all different types of ways to pre seed before eating, or spitting into a small glass or taking the seed onto your fingers — none of which are attractive options for sure. But we muscle through it each year as we join tens of millions of other Hispanics in America who down one grape at each stroke of midnight to represent good luck for each of the 12 months of the year.
What will good fortune represent for Latinos in America this year? It begins and ends with Donald Trump. Let’s just say he’s Mr. January and Mr. December.
January: Though Trump attacked us first, calling those who cross the border into America “rapists and criminals,” he continued insults of other groups as well, including women, blacks, Muslims and even combat veterans. Our good fortune: misery breeds company.
February: Pass comprehensive immigration reform and stop talking about securing a border that’s already more secure. Numbers don’t lie. More people are crossing the border heading back to Mexico than are crossing on the way here. Let’s be grateful for that economic reality.
March: Let’s create a pathway to citizenship for the hardworking, responsible, America-loving undocumented immigrants who are here. You want proof of their productiveness? Fine, consider this — they make up only 3.5 percent of our population yet comprise 5.1 percent of our workforce. No other group can claim that level of industriousness. And we want to get rid of them? What?
April: Let’s create a vehicle for finding out which undocumented immigrants are criminals, moochers and delinquents and kick their “culos” out of the country. That would make all Latinos grateful.
May: Let’s be grateful for the only Hispanic candidate in the presidential race and hope that Americans realize he’s also the most serious candidate. Let’s be grateful for Jeb Bush.
June: Dr. Ben Carson fizzles after saying he wanted to attack people crossing the border with missiles. Let’s be grateful that soon after that idiotic statement, he went on to make about a dozen more. Almost all, lulus!
July: Read this website, find others you like as well and let’s be grateful that there are enough sources for news and information aside from those who want to do nothing but frighten us for ratings and profits.
August: Be generally grateful that things are never as bad they are made out to be by media and politics. Doubt all you hear and half of what you read and always consider their motivation.
September: Why, if Honduras is said to be the most dangerous country on earth, does the media ignore the plight of Hondurans, while exaggerating and overcovering every Middle East story? Be grateful for those few journalists who understand the disparity and report on it.
October: Be grateful that Democrats are at least generally more accepting of Latinos than are Republicans when it comes to rhetoric and immigration reform, but trust neither party.
November: Be grateful that Hispanics can, from time to time, appear on TV as guests on news and information shows. However, considering that they’re the largest and fastest growing minority group in the U.S., ask yourself why they’re so woefully underrepresented when compared to every other minority group.
December: We’ve saved the best grape for last. After insulting almost every single minority group in the U.S., Donald Trump finally goes too far after being roundly rejected by the GOP at a brokered convention. His third party candidacy fizzles when the networks jointly decide to simply stop giving him free airtime.
Here’s to a great 2016 and to the hope that dreams really can come true.