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Personal Essay About Family Gatherings Amid Coronavirus

I Can’t Wait to Resume las Reuniones Familiares — But I Have to Admit, I’m a Little Scared

For me, part of the whole Latinx experience is to get together with family and friends and make a party out of any situation. The baby's teething? That's reason for a fiesta. Your cousin passed her driving test? That calls for un almuerzo. You got your first period and are officially a "señorita?" Yup, somehow the whole family is there.

In prepandemic times, I was guilty of thinking these juntaderas were a bit of a drag. Why do we have to be in each other's business all the time? Why does my abuela have to ask about el novio whenever she sees me? And why does my tía have to comment on my weight? I trembled at the mere thought of walking into that lion's den.

But once the routine questions and comments were over — which took about five minutes of going around la sala saying hi to everyone — you could only hear laughter, music, conversations about our ancestors who were no longer with us (and all the great things they did), family secrets that back in the day might have been embarrassing but now are hilarious, and anecdotes that ranged from my great-grandfather's adventures around the world to a trip to Ikea my family took to get my sister ready for college.

These reuniones were how we carried the family history, our traditions, and our heritage, while creating new memories and strengthening our bond.

While technology has been amazing during these unprecedented times — even my abuelo learned how to make video calls — it's still not the same. We need the hugs, we need the physical touch. Whether it's a tap on the shoulder or a primo grabbing you by the wrist and pulling you into a complete different conversation, this is an intrinsic part of my family's dynamic.

I personally can't wait to be able to see my family when social-distancing rules are lifted and travel is possible again. I'm particularly excited to hug my parents and siblings, since I haven't seen them in months. And while the thought of congregating with my nuclear family is very appealing, whenever I think of all the extended family, I can't help feeling a little scared.

These reuniones were how we carried the family history, our traditions, our heritage, while creating new memories and strengthening our bond.

How am I going to react being in a room with so many people again? Will we finally be able to establish a sense of personal space? Will I become a hand-washing dictator? Will sharing food no longer happen? Will we have to name a designated, glove-wearing bartender to handle the drinks?

Maybe it's because I've been isolated for weeks, and maybe the minute I see everyone together, I'll forget what we just went through, but I can't help feeling nervous about the future. Whatever happens, I hope it doesn't take away our ability to enjoy the company, to find any excuse to celebrate, and dance all of our sorrows away.

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