Published: December 27th 2008December 26th 2008
Hello, my friends,
First and foremost, thanks to my dear friend Chantal for her wisdom to push me to write again, you are absolutely right, I haven´t done it for such a long time, so I will endeavour to type again and you might eventually find my stories here again, I said eventually... as I am being a bit too lazy now and, as some of you know, too many things have happened since last time. Anyway, for the time being, I am here to fill you in about the recent Christmas spent at home, which has been one of the best Christmases ever.
I will always keep lovely memories of past Christmases which for me, it is the best time of the year; I will always be thankful to Peter, Anne, Elisabeth, Lydie, Telva, Hanson, Francoise and their families for inviting me over to their homes to share it with their families. It meant so much to me, I hope one day, I will be able to be the host and have the pleasure to attend to them the same way they did with me, and you all know that the invitation is on whenever you
As I was saying, I was blessed to share it this year with my folks, that is sth I'd been longing for and at last, I am here enjoying it. Since big reunions demand big organisations, it was high time we did sth memorable. Anyway, I was in charge of the whole Christmas celebration and I think...it was most lively! the only downside was that as I was then very busy in the build up to Christmas, embedded in Christmas decorations, the Novena de Aguinaldos, performances for the 24th with every member of the family, it is understandable that after having accomplished such huge undertaking, I suddenly felt the blues and my excitement started fading. Henceforth, it has been Blue Christmas for me, if I may say so!
The "Novena de Aguinaldos" had us reunited to pray and also sing Christmas Carols near the nativity scene. I don't know if you've heard of this "Novena" (meaning 9th), which is part of our Catholic tradition and it goes on for 9 days prior to the birth of Baby Jesus. During these 9 days, we go to Mass at 5:00 am (what? is it too
early for you? well, in some places, it starts at 4.00 am), not for you, you might think :) but hey, it is only once a year and you can sing Christmas Carols too, can you resist that? :) Anyway, the venues for the Novena were shared among the families taking part in the praying, which made it less monotonous. The only difference this year was that I asked everybody to get dressed as shepherds; as usual, my beautiful family delivered.
Although we don't have some of the beautiful English Christmas traditions like the mistletoe and the succulent Christmas pudding (I know, many of you wouldn´t say "succulent", we, on the other hand, replace it for the delicious "tamales, and yés, "delicious" here is just fine), we can say that worldwide Christmas celebrations are a mirror of each other... our celebrations, for instance, are also full of different events and decorations that fill houses and streets from the beginning of December to the end of January, just like everywhere, I guess, and it is my understanding that this is what makes the spirit of Christmas so universal.
The colourful Christmas lights outside are always lovely, here
Lovely cribs to be admired
The downside was the pushing
I admired tons of Christmas trees, concerts everywhere, there was this night when we went out to watch a display of 20 different cribs, they actually called it "ExpoPesebre", a wonderful idea with superb crafts; there was one where they used the four seasons as the theme of the crib, it was amazing! Some other street decorations were skillfully made and we were there being pushed and pushing a bit while taking the normal photos you take during events like these.
Anyway, back to our family...next thing on the agenda was to come up with a performance to involve everybody, so I found a play with a role for all of them. In fact, I found two plays, one for the kids and another for the adults, you know, the typical story leading to the birth of Baby Jesus with the nasty Herodes and the eager shepherds, Joseph and Mary, of course, angels, sheep, and the like. Everybody was excited as it was the first time we were ro perform in a Nativity play, that was fun. My dad was so cute, rehearsing on his own and parroting his lines while we were busy decorating the house.
The performance would be also full of songs, (I sang again, oops), some interesting readings about the origins of Christmas, some playbacks, anything meant to provide us with laughter and enjoyment would do.
For the decorations of the stage, I came up with a poster which I called the most criticised poster of all the time... (I coined the name after having received so much criticism from almost everybody). They mainly pointed out the funny face of St. Joseph, the long trunk of the donkey, they said it looked like a llama, the palms which they compared to cactuses and carnivorous plants ready to eat Mary.... and I laughed while they were discussing and making comparisons. I leave it to you to give the verdict on this announced matter but I have to say that I wholeheartedly agree, you see, singing and drawing are not my strongest points. Without having anything to allow me to refute such undeniable accusations, I didn't clam up but instead joined in the mockery and said that I had done it on purpose to have a laugh together...but this is normal, humour is commonpractice everytime we get together.
food, on the other hand, was not such a laughing matter, the cooks were too busy these days, some of them were not available till mid-January, good for them; fortunately, Yolanda had the smart idea of choosing some roast pork and then she made a lovely salad to go with and the dinner menu was ready. We all chipped in for the big pork, salad and drinks. My parents obviously made the traditional "tamales", which made the Christmas more homey; I have to own up that everytime they are about to cook them, I always promise that I will help out but apart from wrapping some of them, I haven't got round to actually making them.
As for the drinks, they consisted mostly of whisky and aguardiente for men and juice, some beer and "ponchecrema" for the ladies. By the way, ponchecrema is a drink my mum makes from cream, rum, eggs and vanilla, it is delicious!!! Nobody got pie-eyed, fortunately those times when we used to drink just to get drunk belong to the past, now it is more about enjoying, making jokes and sharing some happiness, thanks God.
This time we didn't
dance at home, well, only the children from the choir did and that was unbelievable, I suppose the reason was that we started the performance quite late and after the succulent meal and the opening of presents, we didn't have any energy left to dance. However, we did enjoy the melodious music of December, it is always a pleasure to listen to "Los 50 de Joselito, La Musica de Diciembre, Barranco Mix, Villancicos Tradicionales" and I played some American ballads just so that I wouldn't forget what I had learned :)
The opening of presents was due at midnight, plenty of gifts were lying under the Christmas tree and there was sth for everybody; I, for one, had lots of things I bought from my latest Asian trip and wrapped them all up some days before. I always know that my nephews get very excited when receiving anything from abroad, and it cost me almost nothing. My family had also bought clothes and toys for the children, the idea was that everybody had something.
Looking back, I remember when I was like 13 and I was so rude to my mum as I thought
she loved my brother more than me for he had received a beautiful toy and I was given only an expensive soap. What I took for preference, was maybe the message that I was a dirty boy :) now I regret being so childish, even at that age. But believe me, I was punished: I remember the next day, my mum took my brothers and sisters out and when I woke up I felt so lonely and almost suddenly it dawned on me what was the cause of my being alone in the house, I will never forget that emptiness and remorse invading me all day, sorry mum!
Okay, back to the present now: The next couple of days I felt a wee bit exhausted, I suppose it was just out of tiredness from all the organisation and stuff. I hate that feeling, you are sort of restless and do not want to do anything serious, how to explain it... it is like the short drive given by coffee that help you concentrate only on simple things; in order to channel this wading energy somewhere, I opted for watching two episodes of Ugly Betty and three of
Friends, at least they made me laugh. I also did some cleaning to while the time away, but it didn't help that much.
I guess I am not the only one, I don't know you but I reckon everybody feels a bit down from all the excitement in the run-up to Christmas, the drinks, hangovers, the wish-making hugs and the like and, they somehow get new batteries for the celebration at the end of the year. You feel it when you walk outside, even if the lights from the cribs and Christmas decorations are still on and music is played, you see this sad expression on people's faces, who in spite of still being on holidays, they are far too tired to be cheerful. Or maybe they are repented for taking so many days off or having spent so much, I do´'t know, or either it was a coincidence but everybody today seemed a bit gloomy, sorry, I am spoiling everything, I know.
Yes, Sorry if I sound like a monster wanting to kill that lovely spirit of Christmas, I am not like that, but I can't help feeling like this now. Anyway, I'd
better go before I even ruin the celebrations of the end of the year. Here between us, I need to recharge my body batteries again so as not to spoil the wonderful countdown. I hope you are all having a wonderful time and let me wish you the best for the 2009: As the lovely song goes: 'Un feliz ano pa'ti, un feliz ano pa'ella, un feliz ano pa'todos, un feliz ano'.
Goodbye and keep me posted, do not forget that even if we don't write to one another so often, we have shared nice moments of friendship, laughter and sadness that cannot just be washed away, I love you all!
2 de Enero de 2008 (sorry, a typo already: 2009)
New Year's Eve
Wow, I was rereading this entry and couldn't help feeling a bit apologetic about having written one of my paragraphs in which I sounded a bit down; I was feeling that way on those days, but hey, the good news is the end of the year was much better for me as I recovered from the Christmas organisations, drinks and hangovers. Some of the updates I've
received from you have also cheered me up and I am quite happy to know that we are still in touch.
Even though I put on a show again, this time the environment was much better, I don't know what it was, maybe the resolutions (yes, I thought of you!) or the rushing to Carrefour, but suddenly, I felt lots of positive energy everywhere. Yeah, my French friends, there's one shop not very far from home and busy as I was with the organisation, I rushed to our store as I had the crazy idea of making a cake at 10:00 pm, my mum went like, 'if you want a cake, I'll bring you one', but that was not the point, you know, I gather you also have crazy ideas like this once in a while and I wanted to make the cake myself, I wanted to have that drive... and there I was, pushing people again, getting the ingredients and grapes for everyone to continue the Spanish tradition...
While buying the stuff, I couldn't laugh at myself more: as I was adding up numbers in my head, I hesitated and grasped just two
bunches of grapes, I guess to keep counting as there were so many nephews and nieces staying with us, then I went to the cakes and pastries aisle...when I came back to pick up the rest of the grapes, which were so big and tasty, they were all gone, that's right, too many people buying so much stuff at that time. How crazy are they? or how crazy am I? whatever, I went on my head like: 'Hey, be polite, I saw them first' but then it was too late; as a result, my family wouldn't have the chance to eat 12 grapes each, if I remember correctly I gave each 5 while I had the 12 needed, sorry, I didn't include being selfless in my resolutions :)
As I was buying the wine, I thought, well, let's make it real French and so I went to the cheese section, I wanted to treat my loved ones to some real cheese, guess what I found... blue cheese, yeah. I hesitated so much as I pictured them all making faces; for the record, I have to own up that I hate this kind of cheese as it is
too smelly, if any of you remember...but hey, I thought, they won't die if they taste it. I don't have to tell you that my sixth sense was right, only did my sister and two of my nephews taste it, the rest, they just passed, and no reason for me to get angry or feel rejected, I knew what I was getting us into. One of my brothers went so far as to stuff his nose with cotton to avoid the smell, but that was just a joke. Anyway, we all laughed and that's what counts.
Nearly midnight, there were lots of noise outside, one of our neighbours popped in to wish us a Happy New Year but then as my speech was about to begin, I had to be unsociable and closed the door for the performance to start. My speech, accompanied by a Cafe de Paris, (Je ne suis pas parti pour champagne) was simple, just based on family values and the happiness I felt for being with all of them, there were no tears but it was very touching.
We did the usual jumping and hugging when the clock stroke midnight,
then we all sang, danced and took part in the performance. By the way, we are all becoming artists, and my nephews get so excited, I guess it is helping them to overcome shyness. My brother, for example, pretended he was Jose Luis Perales, and even made the Spanish accent, he's so great and made us all laugh. My nephews delivered again, there was everything, jokes, songs, playbacks, very similar to what we did on Christmas, I loved it!!! In fact, it has become like a habit for us, everytime that there is a special celebration, we get together and the show starts, isn't it nice? Most of them stayed up until 2 am and then went to sleep, Jose Luis continued drinking beer, and my sister and me, we drank the bottle of baileys my mum bought her as a present and talked till 5.30 am, we told jokes, danced a bit and it was a real party.
That was brilliant, the best New Year's eve I've spent for ages, I wish I could spend thousands more with them, but maybe next year, I'll be with one of you, so don't worry if you see me
rushing to a Carrefour or a shop next door again as I might wish to make a cake again. Happy New Year to all of you, my dear friends, I hope to hear from you soon, God bless you!
There are more photos below