Happy Thanksgiving table We Gather Together

Thanksgiving a tradition Latinos learn to cherish

It was our first year as an immigrant family. A few days before Thanksgiving,  a small yellowish envelope with little illustrations of red leaves and orange pumpkins arrived at the house: An invitation to celebrate our first Thanksgiving with new friends in the United States.

My family and I arrived in the United States a sunny day in June of 1990. First, it felt like a nice long vacation but the children started school in September and soon winter came over us like a heavy dark blanket. As many immigrants, we had no family or friends, just my husband’s work acquaintances.

Happy Thanksgiving table We Gather Together

Later in November, preparations for Thanksgiving Day started around us. The children brought comments and stories from school and anxiously were asking how we were about to celebrate. In my heart, I was feeling sad that we had no family members with whom to get together but did not want to share the sentiment with the kids, at the time nine and 13.

A few days before Thanksgiving, a small yellowish envelope with little illustrations of red leaves and orange pumpkins arrived at the house: An invitation to celebrate our first Thanksgiving with new friends in the United States. That day, it was not only the beginning of a thankful tradition but also of a friendship that has lasted a lifetime.

Since then, we adopted Thanksgiving Day as our own tradition and we celebrate it each year, maybe not with the same meaning as Americans do but with our own sense of gratitude for all the blessing we receive on a daily basis. Here are some I’d like to share with you:

  • Thanksgiving Day is a day to celebrate living in harmony with each other

As those pilgrims in Plymouth, Massachusetts, we are thankful for the opportunities we found in this country and the people who have opened their homes and their hearts to help us. We have learned to live and share our experiences with families from all ancestries, races, religions and other differences that make us appreciate the value of diversity.

  • We welcome those who arrive now as well as those who arrived then

The history of this country is based on the immigrant experience. From the pilgrims looking for religious freedom to those who were forced to arrive in this land through slavery, and from the waves of immigrants who fled wars, famine or political persecution to those who continue to arrive today in search for better life opportunities, we must open our arms and invite them to our tables.

  • Latinos are a grateful culture and we count our blessings

Overall, our shared Christian tradition encourages Latinos to be grateful for the blessings we received. Not everybody is lucky –as we were– to be welcomed in someone else’s home. However, we still need to remember that no matter the circumstances we live in or the challenges we face, we can always find reasons and people to be grateful for: our children and grandchildren, our family –close or extended- our friends and colleagues, and all those who come to our lives to share theirs with us.

  • Make it a day to remember your reasons and your people to be thankful for

My gratitude goes to all who have opened doors for me and my family since we arrived that sunny day in 1990. Some of those doors were their homes’, their offices’ or their hearts’ but one by one they helped us build our life in our new adopted homeland.

¿Y tú, por qué estás agradecido?

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” United States Declaration of Independence

women of color lack of access to capital

Achieve the American Dream without losing your Latin Soul (free session)

Attractive Hispanic Woman Leaning on a One Hundred Dollar Bill.

What is your American Dream? Family, values, traditions? Money, fame, achievement?

What is your American Dream? And what does that mean to you? Are you living it?

If you were like most young Latinas, you dreamed about what your life would be like when you grew up. And like many American girls, you may have imagined marrying your Prince Charming, living in a beautiful home, having children and perhaps even a career of your own. Some of you may even have dreamed about traveling to exotic places, being independent and breaking traditional female gender roles.

Childhood dreams never truly die: they lie within you seeking to someday be fully realized!

For most Americans today, the American Dream means living in a home of their own, having a successful career or perhaps their own business. For others the American Dream means achieving fame, amassing wealth, or accumulating an abundance of material possessions.

For me, the American Dream means having the freedom to control my own destiny. Living the Dream means I have discovered my purpose in life and am free to pursue my vision of happiness, wherever that road may lead me. Although the American Dream may possibly mean different things to different people, one thing is certain:

For Latinas in America, achieving the American Dream is meaningless if they lose their Latin Soul in the process!

The soul is that part of you that seeks meaning and purpose and a connection with something greater than yourself. After all, isn’t it your connection to your faith, family and culture that nurtures your Latin soul and gives meaning to your life?

Who are you, as a Latina, without your familia, native culture and religious traditions?

Happy Hispanic Family Portrait Sitting in Grass Field with Ghosted House Figure Behind.

Who are you, as a Latina, without your familia?

And for us, family doesn’t mean just the traditional nuclear family consisted of a man, a woman and 2.3 children. No, for Latinos family means the extended family of abuelos, tíos, tías and of course primos with whom you grew up and created mischief when you were young. For Latinos, without these relationships life feels empty, void of the bonds that give meaning to our lives.

This is the challenge for Latinos in America today . . . We live in two worlds!

On the one hand, we grow up in a world where faith, family and “frijoles” are values we hold dear. On the other, we live in a society where independence, notoriety and achievement are esteemed above all else.

In the Latino world, we give a warm abrazo or beso when we say hello or goodbye, even to someone we just met. In the other world, a firm handshake or even cold shoulder is considered an appropriate salutation even when you have known someone for years.

As a Latina business professional, you face a dilemma because in our world it is considered bad manners to brag about your accomplishments, flaunt your wealth or attract attention to yourself, and yet to succeed in America today, you must often stand out from the crowd.

Yes, Latinos live in two worlds!

One reason is because our core values, the soul of Hispanic culture, revolve around our extended family. Our family is part of our identity and is included in our hopes and dreams. Success in business and life in general is meaningless for Latinos without family with whom to share our good fortune. Our family is our foundation, inspiration and a source of strength.

So what is the secret to achieving the American Dream without losing your Latin soul?

startups, small business, launching a business

Have you defined your core values?

The key is to bridge the gap between your two worlds. As a Latina living in America you are influenced by the values of two distinct cultures. In fact, it is virtually impossible to succeed in school or in the workplace without incorporating into your life at least some traditional American cultural values.

The way to bridge the gap between worlds is to orient your life around your core values. Core values are the essence of who you are at the deepest level of your being. Core values are things that give your life meaning and purpose. Core values are what you find meaningful, like beauty, justice and family, when all your needs are met.

Have you defined your core values?

In my coaching practice, I always make sure my clients clearly define their core values before they set any business or career goals. The reason being too many business professionals, Latinas included, chase after success with the erroneous assumption that success will make them happy. It does not!

You may be able to achieve success without living your core values, but you may also find that the ladder of success you worked so hard to climb was leaning against the wrong wall. True and sustainable success, in business and life, is a consequence of living according to your core values and sharing your natural gifts and talents with the world. By bridging the gap between your two worlds you can achieve the American Dream without losing your Latin soul!


YOUR VALUES are the behaviors and activities to which you are naturally drawn.  Values are who you really are and they include: … Creating, … Contributing, … Adventure, … Beauty, … Teaching and… Spirituality.

Don Daniel offers a free 40-minute coaching session to those who would like to start working on his Tru Values™ Program: this program helps you to understand values, discern your top 4 values and puts you on a path to honoring them. Sign up now! Only 3 free sessions offered!

[contact-form-7 404 "Not Found"]

Daniel Ortiz Daniel Ortiz (Don Daniel) is an award-winning author and host of the popular TV show “American Dream – Latin Souls,” which shares the inspiring story of Hispanic business success. To learn more or purchase his book visit