Monday, December 26, 2011

Happy Everything!

Christmas in McAllen, Texas...It's been years since I've spent a Christmas at my parents house. Ever since leaving for Peace Corps, Honduras (RIP) five years ago I've unintentionally made it a habit to spend the holidays in other countries or states: California, Turks and Caicos, Florida, Honduras, Guatemala, and Colombia.  This is my first Christmas back in Texas as a (seemingly) mature and married woman.  Whereas I used to spend the majority of the holidays in Mcallen partying with my friends and stumbling home in the early morning, this time around I've been with my family the entire time - except for two gatherings with individual friends (it's always a pleasure to see Roxy and Christa) - and in bed by 11 pm every night.

Part of the reason for my undesire to go out is that I've been sick with a lingering cold, but the underlying reason is that I'm so comfortable and cozy at my parent's house. It's safe here, and right, and everything is the way it should be and the way I remember it: Christmas lights strung around the yard; the already peaceful backyard even more inviting with the new fire pit, garden, and chickens; the spotless house; Christmas decor in every room and hallway; the open kitchen working full-time, emitting trays of sweet breads, hot chocolate, tamales (an entire post about them to come), mandarins and cherries, freshly brewed coffee any time I want it; thick throw blankets on every sofa and recliner, beckoning me to curl up with a book for hours; not having to get out of my warm pajamas or silly slippers all day. How did I not appreciate all of this when I was younger?

Apart from all the aforementioned goodness I didn't know I was missing, the one thing I clearly recall missing every Christmas away from my old home has been my father's nativity scene, or pesebre, as we call it in Spanish. As far back as my holiday memories go I can always remember our family pesebre. It's a tradition that my dad picked up during his years as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Colombia, and was strengthened when he and my mom moved to the United States. When my father first started putting together the nativity scene for Christmas it was fairly simple: stable, manger, Jesus, Mary and Joseph, the three kings, the star to Bethlehem, and some farm animals, displayed lovingly in a small corner of the house by the Christmas tree. Over the years my father's pesebre hobby has grown exponentially and now takes up major space every November to January in the living and family rooms of our house. Incidentally, the size of our Christmas tree (if any at all) has shrunk.

The main nativity scene of baby Jesus surrounded by his entourage still exists,

but my father has added towns, continents, snow, beach, hills, mountains, motorized trains and carnivals, and figurines of all races to represent the entire world.

An additional joy for me this particular Christmas has been rediscovering my childhood in the letters and drawings I used to create with frequency for my family, and the letters and drawings they used to share with me. My sentimental parents saved all of those memories in an extra large box that now sits in my old closet. I had a nostalgic blast going through it all yesterday morning. I found a Christmas card I wrote in fourth or fifth grade, intended for God as it's labeled "Thank you dear God", in which I write that I'm thankful for my family and friends and add, as a postscript, to "please stop the violence, guns! Decapitation of dolphins in Venezuela, That Pablo Escobar is dead and that I do much better in school!" -proof that I've always been a pessimist; the glass is half empty, people!

So, Christmas this year was near perfect. The only (and major) people missing were brother James and Chris. Apparently bar exams are to be taken seriously by law students and they're not allowed to carouse and stuff, leaving them to spend Christmas alone in Miami without their wives. Hopefully studying for the bar exam leaves Chris a few hours to entertain me before I begin work again in January, because I head back to Miami tomorrow.

Happy Holidays, or , (as aptly written on a card my mom just received) Happy Everything! I hope your "everything" has been as lovely as mine.


Anonymous said...

That brings back many happy memories as well to me. And we will be creating more as the family grows and traditions are passed on and modified. Love, Pop

Anonymous said...

My new years resolution is to pass these dreaded tests so I can contribute to the pecebre in coming years. My favorite surprise Guy was seeing the Occupiers have made an appearance this year. Maybe Obama will finally notice them.

Good stuff Nana. A little relaxation does the soul good (and make me jealous).

Saludos from Miami,


Anonymous said...

It's been wonderful having you and Carol home ... feels like you never left, like time never passed. I miss my James and Chris too of course, and I'm looking forward for those coming years when all together we continue to celebrate our traditions, or create new ones together.
Love you,

Laura @ SpottyOwlDesign said...

Love the boots!!

(dropping by via Kelle Hampton's blog)