“We’ll just add water to the beans,” my grandmother would say when family or friends showed up unannounced in our home. It was her way of saying people were always welcome. She never worried if there was enough food to share; somehow she always made do. She taught me a very important lesson about family and community: when people show up, it’s a blessing. It was always so important for my Tita to make people feel welcome. And food was one of the ways she did that. She could take a few ingredients and create a feast out of seemingly nothing. She always had a pot of beans, salsa and tortillas in the fridge “in case anyone shows up.” She wanted everyone to know our house was home. A safe place to replenish and renew.
I carry this lesson into the classroom with the students I serve as well. One of the most difficult things is to get kids to show up. Even when they show up physically, they aren’t fully present. So when I see them step through the door into the classroom, I acknowledge and welcome them as the blessing they are into the community. Sometimes they come in still sleepy; sometimes they don’t have a pencil or paper; sometimes they’ve missed so much school they don’t know where to start – I don’t know where to start. It is then that I remember my grandmother’s words, “Se le hecha mas agua a los frijoles.” Everyone is welcome. Their presence is a blessing. We create with what we have. We find abundance in the act of sharing. This is home.