Saturday, December 04, 2010

The Time of Year

It's time to plan for the Christmas celebrations which are so different now from when I was younger. In the past, I was the Santa Claus. I coordinated gifts for the children with my parents and an aunt who lived near us. We indulged in good cooking and lots of music and visits in the three households.

These traditions were paltry compared to the ones that I remember from my childhood because when I was younger I lived in New York with my large extended family. There everyone brought and shared dishes like arroz con gandules, pernil, and my Mom's specialty pasteles--meat pies or Puerto Rican tamales. Christmas for me meant playing in the snow, partying with large numbers of cousins, aunts, and uncles. It also meant going to church with Mom who preferred Spanish with her Catholicism.

In Puerto Rico, my Cousin Rosin Torres tells me, Christmas Season meant music like the Aguinaldos formerly sung by "Jibaros" in rural communities and small towns. My Mom and aunts and uncles brought those sounds and the smell of good cooking with them to New York. In New York getting the ingredients for Puerto Rican cooking was easy as the demand for them was high and shipment did not take long.

When we moved to California we had to learn to make do with the paucity of Caribbean spices there. However, we kept the traditions as faithfully as possible and today my children cook with the same love for the family and friends that stop by as my mother did as a young woman on the island, in New York, and later in California. 

I live to see many of the traditions and love passed along to newer members of the family and I am at peace and praying for peace in the world.