Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Feliz Navidad? :)

Emotions all around me, Feelings that confound me.
I can't not find the reason to laugh and not cry this season...

Merry Christmas.

These past few days I've been overcome with great nostalgia.  I am nostalgic, just reminiscing about the days of old.  Truth be told, everyone in my home is fast asleep and I am sitting here listening to "Burrito Sabanero," crying (yes, Farrah, I know what you are thinking). I miss my family, I miss our Christmas Parrandas. Okay, we never had Parrandas the way Caribean folks have Parrandas, we had Farra's.  A Farra is an Ecuadorian full fledged jam.  You know the one, the one that starts at 7:00 PM but doesn't end until the sun rises and you finish having some, "hair of the dog," for breakfast. 

I was blessed to grow up in a two family home in Queens, New York.  I lived with both of my parents, my younger sister and brother ('till I was 17 and my youngest brother was born) on the second floor for several years. On the first floor lived my maternal grandparents, two aunts and two uncles. As time passed several of my extended family members would come and go.  One day when I was a teenager my aunt, uncle and cousins were joking around and they said Grandma's house was like the Statue of Liberty, "Give me your tired your poor Your huddled masses yearning to breath free The wretched refuse of your teeming shore Send these the homeless tempest tost to..."   It was a joke but not too far from the truth.  My grandmother hosted everyone in our home, she would always say, "Donde come uno comen dies!" That translates to, "Where one eats ten can eat as well!"  It was fun, scary sometimes, annoying often but all together pretty spectacular.  My maternal family is from Ecuador and my Paternal family is from Puerto Rico, any time of the year we had folks from either country staying with us, in the attic or in the basement, it was pretty interesting. 

The Holiday season was always a feast to remember.  Invitations never went out and phone calls were not made, La Casa de Julia (My Abuelita) was just the spot.  Extended family and all dear friends would come calling, everyone was welcome and everyone had fun.  I spent 30 years celebrating Christmas with Grandma aka Abuelita and 21 of them were in that house.  Christmas Eve was little New Years but there was nothing little about it.  We would dress in our very best and a feast would be prepared, the music would be blaring and folks would dance and the television would have some latin dance party being aired. It was a riot. We would exchange gifts at midnight and pop cheap bottles of champagne (you know like MUMS or something, "Meet the Fockers" reference).  I dare say the NYPD came to ask us to turn down the music, once or twice but then ending up having a drink with grandpa and all was forgiven. 

It was the best of times.

Christmas Eve this year was a little different than the times I described.  This year I had a lovely dinner at home with my eclectic, beautiful, loving, and amazing blended family. 106.7 was on the radio (as per the norm, if it's not 106.7 it's 100.3, 93.9, or 97.9), the chicken was slow roasting from 11:00 AM, I made a salad (I have truly cornered the market on salad making), some sweet potatoes, sauteed eggplant and a tiny piece of honey ham.  Dessert was a slither of red velvet cake with some vanilla ice cream and some coffee.  We drank some wine and some Krug Champagne.  We talked about how the chicken was purchased at the live poultry shop and seasoned three days prior. We talked about the lack of Mental Health initiatives, attention, resources, policies, awareness, and knowledge.  We discussed fears, joys, cultures, customs, dreams, love, life.  Our conversations ran the gamut.  It was lovely. ("Your girl is lovely, Hubbell.")  At midnight I was serving coffee.  Once we finished desert we moved to the living room opened a few gifts, took some photos near the tree, enjoyed the joy of the two little ones opening gifts and that was the end of that.

Christmas Day was also full of love and harmony.   Me, my eclectic, beautiful, loving, and amazing blended family.  This year we were fortunate to have a new member of the family join us for our Christmas tradition of giving out all the gifts and opening them together, taking family pictures by the tree and just enjoying each others company.  Brunch, yum. Relaxation, games. Dinner. (all the while I am taking pictures of it all!)

There was no dancing, no cheap champagne, just laughter, and love.

I miss my extended family and our old customs.  Also, I am so very blessed and excited about the new traditions I've become a part of and even more thrilled about the new rituals I've created for my little one.

Feliz Navidad!

What are your holiday customs? 
Do you do anything extra special during the holiday season?


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Respectfully & Sincerely yours,


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