Friday, December 24, 2010

Noche Buena

Meaning: Christmas Eve

Nostalgia attack! Tonight is christmas eve and once again I am in the wrong side of the border. I should be spending tonight as I did in my childhood (or do whenever I am on the right side of the border during the holidays). Those were/are the good times: drinking ponche around a bonfire and counting the stars well into the wee hours of the night. The childhood years I was surrounded by family and loved listening to the stories of years past, especially of the years when I was not around.
Spending christmas eve at my grandparents' house was the best! After the last posada, we would go to supper at their house for which my grandma had prepared a feast. Sure, there were people visiting from all over the place, but it always seemed that she was planning to feed a small army! Midnight mass -at ten- was, of course, obligatory. It always went by so slowly because we could not wait to go back to my grandparents' patio and begin what was for us the real celebration! The night was ours to spend listening to the above mentioned stories and sometimes of random things my extended family had done. It is impossible to forget the classics. Those were the good times breaking piñatas filled with candy and the ones my mom's cousins would fill with flour so we would end up looking like the snow we didn't have. We spent hours looking at the constellations and guessing which one was which. Prizes were awarded if we guessed them correctly! We fought to feed the fire or to help grandma bring the ponche out from the kitchen when she not prepared it outside. Oh, those were good times indeed even if I did not know it then...
Ponche has been my favorite part of the holiday family gatherings for years. I think that is why it was so important to have it even after this gatherings became a friends affair. Somehow we always managed to have ponche from someone's house, though admittedly we now spiked it. We always knew the adults did it, so we tried. But somehow it was/is always better naturally. I attribute this to the power its flavor has to evoke the past. As a friends holiday gathering, we still first had supper at our respective houses and even spent the midnight threshold under our roofs, but we manged to have too many suppers as we went to everyone's house.  After midnight, we came together to spend time doing what we did as children, albeit a bit different. We discontinued the piñatas starting from the ones filled with flour, but we had some every now and then. We still had stories to tell and we definitely still lost ourselves counting the stars.
As I am spending the holidays, as mentioned above, in the wrong side of the border this year,  I will be lucky if I am awake passed midnight. There will definitely not be any stars nor a bonfire. I am still hoping there will be ponche, however. There will be some family over, but not nearly close to the numbers of the golden years. There will not be any friends as we all required to spend this so called special night with the family. Plus, those friends with whom I spend the holidays in Mexico live really far away and/or are in Mexico for the holidays as I should be.

I console myself thinking that there is always next year...


©Copyrighted 2010

p.s. Kids keep in mind that the reason christmas eve sounds as if it is rather important is because in Mexico christmas eve is the celebrated day not christmas day. The celebration of christmas eve goes into the wee hours of the morning of christmas day. Then, the day continues as pretty much any other would except for the possible parties that occur whether baptisms, first communions, XV, or weddings.

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