When my grandfather came from Colombia at an early age with his sisters, they had very little. After their father passed, the eldest son collapsed the family business; with what little money was left their mother sent my grandfather and his sisters to America to get a formal education. Coming without parents and few possessions, Guillermo attempted to shed much of his culture in order to appear "American" to his peers. He tried to learn English and drop his accent as quickly as possible, Guillermo became Bill, and the Uribe family integrated into American society. Eventually his sisters went back to Colombia, but my grandfather settled in Queens with his wife Irene. Because of his job with the airline, he travelled often and went back to Colombia many times, with his children. Because of the time my father spent in Colombia with his extended family, we have retained some of the culture that had been previously lost.
Coming from a Catholic country, religion was an aspect of my grandfather’s culture that remained unchanged in America. A crèche set that he inherited from his mother is among the few things he brought from Colombia. Even though my family no longer follows either of my parents’ religions, the importance of the preserved traditions has not been lost. My father helps us set the crèche out every December, though after over 100 years of wear and tear they are fragile and broken, and many pieces have been lost and added along the way, the tradition has persisted.