Family mixes culture and friendship

Veronica Diaz with her children, Danny and Karla. (Contributed)

By MOLLIE BROWN / Community Columnist

Imagine living in a land where you’re persecuted for your convictions and forced to obey laws that go against them. Could you live a reasonably happy life or would you seek a new place to live?

In 1609, the Pilgrims left England and moved to Holland searching for a better life. Twelve years later, they embarked on a long, difficult journey to America — land of the free, home of the brave.

Prior to 1998, Veronica Diaz lived in Tamaulipas, Mexico, a state now overrun with poverty, drugs and prostitution. Childhood experiences caused Veronica to question the purpose of her life.

Her outlook changed when son Danny was born. Diaz moved to America searching for a better life.

“Danny was 3 when we left Mexico,” Veronica said. “My daughter, Karla, was born here in 1999.”

The family travelled to Mexico in 2000 for the children to learn their native language, then returned in 2002. Her greatest desire is for Danny and Karla to receive an education in America.

On March 6, 2010, Danny was injured while raking leaves. Although he’s had numerous surgeries, Danny is permanently blind in the left eye.

Danny solemnly talked about his convictions of facing challenges. “Bad things do happen to people, but you’ve got to change those bad things into good. I live now what I’ve believed for a long time.”

Veronica invited me to celebrate El Dia de los Reyes Magos (Three Kings Day) with them. The holiday is celebrated Jan. 6., but we planned it for Jan. 9 because of her work schedule.  The winter storm that afternoon prevented me from joining them.

“Three Kings Day is celebrated in different ways in Mexico,” Veronica said. “In Tamaulipas, we have sweet bread that has small replicas of baby Jesus baked inside. You can cut your own piece or let someone cut it for you. Those who get a baby must buy the tamales and hot chocolate for Candelaria Day.”

Dia de la Candelaria, or Candlemas, is celebrated in Mexico on the 40th day after Christmas — Feb. 2. It marks the end of Christmas and the birth of Christ.

Veronica laughed as she shared about those who get a baby Jesus. “Sometimes people swallow the baby because they don’t want to buy the tamales.”

Cross-cultural friendships are formed like any friendship — around shared interests and characteristics. Veronica and I share several interests, but we have one common goal: preparing our children for the best life has to offer.

Mollie Brown can be reached at dmjhb1@bellsouth.net.