Tis the Season to be a Tia!

I love the holiday season! I look forward to holiday decorations, movies, and songs. I enjoy the big Christmas dinner my family makes filled with traditional Puerto Rican & Cuban delights: pernil asado (roast pork shoulder), arroz con gandules (rice and peas), platanos maduros (sweet fried bananas), and yucca. However, the most exciting part of the holiday season is the time I get to spend with my nephews and niece. All six of them (5 nephews and 1 niece).

I lived at home when my oldest nephew was born and periodically when my next two oldest nephews were little. Also, the work I did during those years allowed me to spend a lot of time with them that now is not as easy to carve out. Aside from an occasional weekend, holidays and special events there are three major times I set aside to spend with them: Our annual summer trip, the long Thanksgiving weekend and the time I get off at the end of the year.

I don’t always get to have all of them at the same time. My oldest nephew is 20 years old now, works, and preparing for a family of his own. My littlest nephew and niece together are like the Tasmanian devil after 10 cups of coffee so it is best when they are separated. This holiday season I have been able to enjoy six days with 5 of my nephews.

Now don’t get me wrong it hasn’t been a blissful 6 days and my house looks like it was hit by a tornado, but as always I laughed…a lot. We watched movies, I am all caught up with the goings on of World Wrestling Entertainment, as usual I spent way too much money on gifts, and oh yes did I say I laughed a lot! I even got the opportunity to show them the value of giving by taking them to feed the homeless. Priceless!!!

This time with them always reminds me how important they are to me. No matter what I have going on in my life, no matter how stressed, sad, angry, frustrated I am all I have to do is look at them, talk to them, hug them…..and everything is all better.

I often get the question: Don’t you ever want your own children?

My answer: There is no need because I get to be an aunt to the best 6 children I know.

I have been able to support them when they needed me, scold them when they would prefer I didn’t, and spoil them when I probably shouldn’t have. I have been able to see their unique personalities come to life the older they get. All while they have given me strength and motivation. They are why I work to make the world a better place to live. They are my heart and my reason for all that I do.  I know I didn’t give birth to them but I couldn’t be prouder if I did.

As I get ready to become a great aunt and help raise another fabulous individual, I want to leave you all with one thought. If you are lucky to be an aunt, never forget that aside from their parents you get to be the most important person in the lives of your nephews and nieces. Therefore, I urge you to be the best aunt you can be, because it will be the most rewarding responsibility you ever have!

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Sonya Vasquez

Sonya Vasquez

Sonya Vasquez, MSW is the Health Policy Director at Community Health Councils, is a non-profit community-based health advocacy and policy organization. Most recently her work has centered on bringing organizations together to inform the implementation of the Affordable Care Act in California and Los Angeles County. She has over 18 years of experience working on community issues. Through her career and personal contributions she is committed to empowering individuals and strengthening communities. However, her most rewarding effort has been as an aunt.

Sonya Vasquez

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