storytellers

25 12 2009

Travelers.  Wanderers.  Immigrants.

We were surrounded by the unfamiliar and my soul was longing for something to hang on to in this place where all of my cultural cues were misplaced.  The songs were unrecognizable.  There was no snow.  It was midnight and the neighbors were banging on the radiators upstairs in jubilation.  It was Christmas morning and I was thousands of miles away from home.

In the following years as I became acclimated to my surroundings, I began picking up on the nuances of  Noche Buena.  Families would gather late – for a huge meal before going to midnight mass.  It was one of two nights all winter that the heat in the apartment building would be on all night long.  I had to come up with a way that we could stay up late too – albeit our family gathering was only the four of us…sometimes more depending on whatever ex-pats we could host.

Each trip Stateside in the following years, I would visit a favorite children’s book store and leave with armloads of stories about Christmas.  That stack of books became the center piece of our attempt at making the wrong feel right. We had something to keep us up till midnight.  We could eat and we could read together as a family.

Once permanently removed from the foreign back to the familiar – it all fell apart again.  Here there was too much to do.  Almost too much family but we couldn’t say that outloud without great misunderstanding.  We missed the huddling together to read but Best Boy and Shop Girl were churlish teens by then and bored with the whole routine anyway.

Somewhere – sometime – we caught the NPR stories.  We replaced our books with the radio stories that meant Christmas to us.  Do yourself a favor…sit…be quiet…and listen.  That is what Christmas is about anyway.  Listening with our hearts.  My Christmas gift to you – a link.





These aren’t the Twelve Days of Christmas, stupid!

13 12 2008

img_3817“…and a partridge in a pear tree.”  

There was an urgent email in my inbox this morning from a famous catalogue company announcing that we were now officially IN the Twelve Days of Christmas.  

Who is getting paid money these days to be so WRONG????  Do you mean to tell me that no one, in any department that all that advertising had to pass through to be approved, knows the difference?   We Americans take traditions that have been around since the Middle Ages and twist them up for our own pleasure.  We can’t even figure out when the Twelve Days of Christmas are. How can the rest of the world respect someone that doesn’t even get THAT right? Morons…it’s no wonder we can’t help broker world peace. 

It is not the twelve days leading up to Christmas.  The count starts with evening of Christmas Day and into the night of the Epiphany (January 5th-6th or Three Kings Day for Spaniards).  Figures that consumeristic-money-grubbing retailers would have us believe otherwise.  Anything to tighten those screws and rush us into throwing good money after bad.  

I loved the fact that in Spain (at least back in the years we lived there), the main focus of Christmas eve was gathering the family for a wonderful meal that didn’t start until 10 p.m.  About the time the last nibbles were on the lips – it was time for Midnight Mass.  

Christmas Day was for sleeping in and left overs.  Most gifts weren’t exchanged until Gaspar, Baltazar and Melchor made their way around town on Three Kings’ Day.  More of that later but I just had to get this rant off my chest.  Happy shopping!