I thought, whoa-since when are we Latinos an ungrateful people? Well, I was polite and simply asked him to explain to me why he had this perception of our people. He said, "At Thanksgiving this year I gave all my men turkeys and they just didn't seem to appreciate it." I asked him if there were other instances of ungratefulness on the part of his employees. He said no.
So, other than the fact that he was making a very broad assumption regarding the "gratefulness" of our people based on an isolated incident, let's say this guy had a point. I mean, after all, he was giving something to his people that obviously held some emotional value to him. We're talking about Thanksgiving here!
So I asked him a few questions.
"Have you traveled much in Mexico?"
"Have you ever had meals with your employees?"
"Do you know how often Mexicans eat turkey as a meat of choice?"
Well, of course, Mexicans and most Latinos rarely, if ever, eat turkey. We eat rice, beans, pork, seafood, plantains, burritos, tacos and if you are Mexican, you may even suck on a lollipop flavored with jalapeño peppers! One thing is for sure, a turkey doesn't excite us as much as a roast pig.
Let's add to this fact that to ask a Mexican to somehow appreciate Thanksgiving is a bit of a stretch. After all, many of them are ostracized in this country due to being, as so many call them, "illegal aliens." I prefer to call them "undocumented people" but that's a topic for another article.
Just think about it: A day that is almost sacred in the United States may just come off as a bit of hypocrisy to your average undocumented Hispanic. Did the Pilgrims have visas and passports? Why do we celebrate their undocumented arrival to this country and we don't celebrate the arrival of the Mexicans?
Anyway, the people were not ungrateful; the Anglo businessman just didn't understand that the value of a gift is in the heart of the receiver. He meant well but he would have been better off having a big fiesta, breaking open some piñatas and drinking some tequila. That would have been appreciated.
There are seven days on the annual calendar that you can truly leverage to make a strong cultural impact on your people. Believe me, they will be very, very grateful if you take this to heart.
Special Day Número Uno: Three Kings Day
This is called, "El día de los Tres Reyes" and it's on January 6 of each calendar year. This is called "Epiphany" in English. This is the traditional Latino Christmas. Now, unfortunately (in my view), Santa Claus has taken over in even Latin America but all of us recognize to some degree or another "El Día de los Reyes." This holiday commemorates the day when "These Three Kings of the Orient" visited the Baby Jesus.
We are still a fairly religious society and this plays well to our people. A small, yet special gift to the children of your Latino employees on this day will show not only that you care about their kids, which is very important, it will also show that you understand our culture and our traditions.
Special Day Número Dos: Mother's Day