Just a trip down memory lane remembering Nochebuenas past.

Pica Pica – I remember one glorious Nochebuena in Pica Pica.  I remember watching the pigs roasting – I think there were three – while we played with our cousins running around the farm with that abandon reserved for the childhood years.  In the evening, aunts, uncles, cousins, friends gathered around the table enjoying the feast that I am sure took not only hours to prepare, but weeks or months to plan.  Today, as a grown up I truly appreciate Tia Chela who welcomed with joy and grace our very large family.

Marti – The Nochebuena when I sneaked the cucumbers.  There was a large long table set outside.  It had been raining earlier in the day and as we sat ready to enjoy our most scrumptious feast, an uninvited frog leaped to join in, but as it heard the screams, it quickly left us.

Ceiba Mocha – This Nochebuena was at the home of some friends of Tio Carlos and Tia Maria.  I believe Tia Maria’s brother was engaged to their daughter at that time.  Tio Carlos and Mima entertained us.  Tio Carlos recited a poem by Jose Angel Buesa with Mima’s arms, pretending to be his, doing all the gestures.  It was quite entertaining with her red sweater, red nails and jingling bracelets.

Matanzas – At Tia Flora and Tio Goyo’s house.  I remember going over their  house with Papi in the morning while they were busy with the preparations.  Tio Goyo’s brother Pepe was there.  I had never met him before.  I think I may have been 8 or 9 years old and extremely shy.  Well, he thought I was the cutest thing and said I was his “novia” (girl friend) and that I absolutely had to sit next to him at dinner.  I went home petrified and embarrassed hoping that he would forget about me.  When we returned in the evening I tried to sneak in thinking I could pretend to be invisible.  No luck!  He quickly came to claim me.  Actually, he was very nice and it was a most enjoyable evening.

Matanzas – Our home – Nochebuena 1961 – my last Nochebuena in Cuba.  It was a lovely evening.  As usual, the anticipation was almost as exciting as the actual event.  Tia Flora, Tio Goyo, Chunita, Joaquinito, Tia Cary and Tio Luis were there.  The adults sat at one end of the table while cousins of various ages sat at the other end.  Tia Flora’s daughter Marina was already married and expecting twins.  I think she and her husband joined us later.  I remember watching through the glass a political discussion in Mima’s beauty shop, Papi and Tio Goyo taking one side and Gaudy (Marina’s husband) the other.  What I found fascinating is that Papi and Tio Goyo were standing extremely agitated and gesturing madly while Gaudy sat there completely unruffled.

Here is a prayer for many very happy Nochebuenas in our family’s future without any political issues drifting us apart ever again.

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