Christmas Eve, 2013.
On this very evening a long, long time ago, I remember us staying at home. There was no panicky mother doing gift wrapping in bed, nor activities hinting of our hasty exodus from our old house in Santa Mesa. The urgency to pack our clothes and set aside our Christmas dresses never bothered the adults. We were there with nothing to do but look at the stars and sleep.
For it was the year when my mom stood her ground, and decided not to show up and join the yearly reunion with our kin. What started the stand off is already lost to memory. All I know is that she and the Favorite Aunt had an argument that day. My guess is that someone wants to do things on her own (go solo with her Christmas celebration) and when the Alpha female refused the arrangement, mom went through with her idea despite the threats.
It infuriated the aunt.
And as if, by way of providence, a mediator appeared on our doorstep. It was already late. Maybe an hour before Noche Buena. My mother's youngest sister showed up together with her husband. For we are being whisked off to spend the holy night with the Favorite Aunt. It no longer concerns me how they made amends. As an afterthought, it was our houses' first get-together that I remember.
The flurry of movements soon followed. I was led to the bathroom to be washed, while my mom readied our provisions. We will be spending the night in another house. For all my attempts to put the plot into this vignette, the truth is, the narrative was reconstructed from vague memory. Nothing can be done to accentuate the story.
What is cherished in the heart is the uneasiness of waiting; of being outside the house, together with the neighbors' children; of mounting someone's cart with a long pole in hand; the overpowering scent of Dama de Noche as it wafted under our noses. The cart where the kids and I stayed was next to the evergreen shrub. Its blooms, often associated with funerals and lamentation for others, will always conjure thoughts of Christmas and reconciliation for me.
We arrived at the Favorite Aunt's place past midnight, and I remember her wordlessly embracing my mom when she welcomed us at her home. Years will pass, way into our teenage years and into the ripeness of adulthood, but the tradition of spending the birth of the Child as one big family has never been broken.
The Favorite Aunt still hosts the Christmas and New Years' celebration to this day.
|LR: The Noche Buena, The Family Christmas Tree full of presents, Santa Claus is back.|
Sharing the gift of lovingkindness from my family to yours. Merry Christmas!