Thursday, January 5, 2012

Christmas Eve For Everyone, Everyone! / Rebeca Monzo

Christmas Eve For Everyone, Everyone! / Rebeca Monzo
Rebeca Monzo, Translator: BW

For all of the obstacles that they have imposed on us in all these
years, Cubans have done the impossible to preserve the most beloved
family traditions: Christmas Eve.

Every 24th of December, the Cuban family or what remains of it, meets
around a table, to carry out the traditional dinner, it doesn't matter
what their wealth, the essential thing is spending the night together,
and starting early to participate in all the preparations, because
that's how our grandparents did it, later our parents and now it's our
turn to pass the tradition on to our children.

I remember as a little girl that marvelous day when they gave the
youngest a little more freedom, because they were toiling in the
preparations of that night, the older folks looked the other way in the
face of our mischief.

Another of the images that comes to my mind was the going and coming of
neighbors, carrying between two enormous grills, a little pig, recently
roasted at the bakery. Others, like us, did it in the house's yard,
digging a hold in the ground and piercing the unhappy pig with a spike,
perhaps made with a slice of orange.

One of the things that I liked to participate in the most, and that they
allowed me to do, was setting the table. I remember that I loved to make
a centerpiece of poinsettias freshly cut from the garden, pity it only
lasted a few hours, but they were enough to decorate our table.

The moment of truth arrived, my grandmother, when she convened the
family dinner, only said "Everyone Come", to the table and to the bed,
she only called once.

I don't know nowadays, what I liked more, if it was the pig, with the
skin and the tail well toasted, or those sleeping black beans, perhaps
the turrones — nougats — the one from egg yolk above all, the sweet
dates, the nuts, whose shells were used to make turtles like my mother
taught me, or finally, that three colored frozen cake with hard
chocolate in the top, that my uncle, in his habitual exasperation tried
to cut, hitting it with everything from an ax to a utility knife, which
made the table shake and the plates and silverware jump. Anyway, so many
pleasant memories, which today we do more simply, it always bring to
mind those delicious pictures and the fond memories of faces, almost
blurred by time, of those family and dear friends, who always
accompanied us and whom we will never forget.

That is why, even though we are already so few, that my children and
grandchildren are not with me, that many of our friends are gone, some
opposite and others further, again, for the love and respect those
traditions that so lovingly they taught me, to make my dinner with what
I have, with what I find, but I welcome all, all!

Translated by: BW

December 23 2011

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