Wednesday, December 23, 2009


“You can’t go down yet” my sister told me. “But why?” I asked. “ Because Santa is not done putting the gifts under the tree” my brother explained. So we sat at the top of the staircase, with bated breath waiting for our parents to tell us we could come down. Once given permission, we zipped down the stairs, and there in the corner of the living room was most magnificent tree I had ever seen, with a mountain of presents underneath it. My father sat in his chair, dressed in his pin stripped pajamas and bathrobe, smoking a cigarette with a black cigarette holder, and drinking his “tinto” (Colombia’s version of espresso). He took a drag, held it, took a sip and then let the smoke trickle out of his nose. He was magnificent. Hugh Hefner didn’t hold a candle to him. My exquisitely beautiful mom sat next to him also smoking, and smiling. The cookies and milk we had laid out the night before were gone, sure sign that Santa had enjoyed them. We tore through the gifts intoxicated with the abundance. We couldn’t tear the paper fast enough so we could get to the next one. When it was my father’s turn to open his gifts, he did it as elegantly as he did everything else. Meticulously he would gently peel the tape off, making sure he did not damage the paper, and very slowly, unwrap his present. Usually a handmade gift involving macaroni and paper-mache one of his adoring children had created in school. My mother, on the other hand ripped right into hers, discovering a misshapen clay artifact representing an ashtray.

Our next task was to figure out how we were going to manage to wear our new clothes while riding the new bikes, drinking our favorite hot chocolate, and playing with the brand new toys all at the same time. Life was good. And those are the memories I want to hold on to forever.

Today, the holidays may not have the same sparkle or sense of magic, but they are what we choose to make them. And I am choosing to make new memories filled with happiness and love. Cooking unbelievably yummy food, grunting and breathing my way through power yoga, playing scrabble, laughing… and to be with the ones I love, like my bff, her beautiful mamou, my mentee and her mentee’s family, out of town friends, and of course my family.

So my friends – choose to have a joyous holiday season, because that is what I wish for you.

Amor y Paz.

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