Wednesday, December 24, 2008

A New Experience: Christmas at Home

I haven't been away from home, per say, that many times...More like "never." When I say "home" I am not referring to a geographical location, since becoming an unwilling immigrant with my family, twenty years plus ago, left me without a place to call home early in life. What I'm referring to here is to the virtual haven my parents created for me and my siblings - no matter where we were, it was HOME, as long as we were together. Even after I got married and left my parents house, the tight unity of our support system was always there, to keep me safe, to keep me secure, to keep me grounded. After moving away from Miami last year, I always had that feeling of being "incomplete" and a sense of not quite belonging, until last night. I found myself last night making plans for Christmas Eve dinner and asking my daughter, Rebecca, which traditional holiday dish (Nicaraguan or Cuban, or both!) she would prefer to eat tonight. My Cuban husband had already asked for my mom's chicken and pork holiday stuffing - Nicaraguan, no less! - Surprisingly enough, Rebecca did not have a favorite; as a matter of fact she told me she did not remember any specific dish at all. I was shocked, but not as shocked as to find out how little I knew my almost teenage daughter! Eating with family, immediate and extended, during the holidays is a must for us Latins, so in Christmas, we always ate at my parent's, then at the in-law's and then made the rounds to see as many relatives as we could in one night. Even when we hosted Christmas at our house, probably twice or so, the food was brought in by our parents, siblings, cousins, relatives and friends (no complaints from me there) !!! Now, after eating almost a dozen of those big family dinners, my oldest kid could not remember what food she ate - What's worse, she told me that everything in her life before the move is slowly becoming a big blur. I know that any psychologist would say that Rebecca's defense mechanism was kicking in to help her cope with the trauma of such a big move and part of it might be true. One thing is for sure, this move has been difficult for all of us, but it has also provided some positive opportunities for us to improve our family relationship. I feel that Raci and I have been given a chance to create our own "haven" for our kids. Don't get me wrong, having the strong back up of a Latin family IS awesome but this new "set-up" has empowered us to build our own "haven" for our kids. I'm making sure that Rebecca and the boys DO remember what we eat, when we eat it and WHY we eat it. They will remember because I am taking the time to share our traditions with them, to involve them and most of all to enjoy them - just like our parents did before.  After this chapter in our lives is over, I know the five of us will be at "home" wherever we are, as long as we remain together.

Speaking of memories, here is my favorite singer, singing my favorite Christmas song:

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