Just yesterday my nine year-old daughter embarked into her own private yearly tradition: spending the summer months in Puerto Rico with her father. I put her on a plane yesterday, direct flight from Houston to San Juan. She cried while she hugged me goodbye, I cried all the way back to the office. Contrary to what I would have thought, it does not get easier with the years. We are very attached to each other, and we still miss each other a lot. But it is a good thing and she has a lot of fun when she goes.
When I was growing up, my favorite tradition ever was picking grass for the camels. You see, where I come from we celebrate Epiphany Day (January 6th). The Three Wise Men leave presents for little kids, much like Santa Claus. The day before, January 5th, my siblings and I, like countless Puerto Rican children, would go out to the yard with a cardboard shoe box, and pick grass for the Three Wise Men’s camels. The boxes with the grass clippings were then placed at the foot of our beds. The next morning, the grass would be gone, save for the occasional stray blade, and in its place would be our presents. I love this tradition so much that I have taught it to my oldest daughter, even though no one else celebrates Epiphany Day where we live now. My daughter absolutely loves to pick grass for the camels, and I enjoy keeping that link to my heritage and passing on the tradition. My youngest daughter was actually born on Epiphany Day, so she is my little gift from the Three Kings. She is only two and half, too young to understand about Los Reyes Magos. But next year we will all pick grass together for the camels, and I will teach her, just as I have taught my oldest, that if you believe in Los Reyes, they will come to you, no matter where you live.