(Excuse me for the belated “weekend” post, but I was too busy savoring the season to be hooked to my computer)
There’s only one thing that I love more than Christmas: family. Not any family but mine: a crazy mix of minds, ideas, traditions and personalities that make up that epitome of a Puerto Rican authentic family. Why, you may ask? It all started with my grandmother, Justina Caez, and my grandfather, Antonio Santiago (RIP). From them, emerged a new generation of 10 kids: Antonio (RIP), Monserrate, Carmen, Guillermina, Pedro, Gerardo, Victor, Providencia, Maria and Maria Socorro. The latter being my mother. You can imagine by now the size of my family. We can make up to 60 people at a party if you count the nieces, nephews, boyfriends, girlfriends, granddaughters, grandsons, great-granddaughters and great-grandsons. We make up one big fat Puerto Rican party.
During Christmas we party too much and often times, you have to stop yourself, or else you will be dragged into the arms of the party animals that I called cousins. I had never experienced this agony until the past weekend. It all started when I visited my cousin, Viviana, for an “end of the world” party she was hosting. I drove all the way to Caguas with only two beers for myself, my camera, the clothes I had on and my bag. I had so much fun, may I say TOO much. And… a little too much to drink. I succumbed myself to the idea that I couldn’t drive back home and had to stay with my cousin, Michelle.
[Michelle and Jonathan, her boyfriend, didn’t want any pictures. Payback!]
I woke up with a mild headache, not many hours of sleep and hungry as a beast. I made breakfast for Michelle and I and proceeded to do what’s best for the season: shopping.
I had made other plans for that day, also. A small group of my family was visiting my grandma and giving her a “parranda” at the elderly home she lives in. I had no clothes or hygiene products, only my camera and last night’s clothes. I had to phone my mother and give her specific, control freak-y instructions as to what to bring me so I didn’t look like a complete mess.
At 4 pm, my mother picked me up and I changed quickly. After all, I couldn’t keep my grandma waiting. We arrived at the elderly home in time to start the “parranda”. To see my grandma’s surprise face when she started seeing all of us was one of the best gifts this holiday. She seemed happier than I had seen her in years. I had to contain my tears as I looked at her. A small dinner at a restaurant followed before we headed to the night’s event: the official “parranda” at Angelo and Raquel’s house.
It was a fun night of traditions, singing, rum and family. Though my mother left early, I decided to crash once again at Michelle’s, so I could stay a bit more with my family. We all took a shot and cheered for life, family and happiness. But I was too tired to be much fun to anyone, so I fell asleep on the couch. At around 2 am, Michelle woke me up and informed it was time to go home.
It didn’t stop there. The next day, my family had a big party. It was my titi-mother’s birthday and official holiday party. Once again, I had to call my mother and give the specific directions as to what to bring. Through this process, I discovered that I know my closet too well, it’s freaky.
The party came with the usual family fun, lots of food and karaoke. I sang a few songs. But the masters of the microphone were my mother and my auntie, Maggie. They always take the lead on who can sing more karaoke and host the night. How I ended up at an asian restaurant in Condado with a bunch of cousins is a another story, but I had a blast. Fortunately, when we decided to go home, I was close to mine and didn’t end up at Michelle’s again.
The 24th marked my mother’s birthday and, as usual, we went to Old San Juan to shop and relax a bit. She bought an Anne Klein bag and Tahari shoes. As a gift, I decided to give her something more personal: a print with a poem dedicated to her on it. Christmas Eve was spent with family, once again. As if we hadn’t seen each other enough, we had another party with another parranda. But first, I stopped by my dad’s family and shared a quick but fun time with them. My cousins and I built a gingerbread house.
During the Christmas Eve party, we did the same thing we had all weekend. Evidently, we never get tired. At midnight, before my mom’s birthday came to an end, we sang happy birthday.
On Christmas morning, I didn’t expect what was about to happen. I had already received my gift on December 8th, so Santa wasn’t giving me anything that day. In a twist of events, I got a new iPad, which I am hooked with now. The afternoon was spent at Michelle’s house with authentic Puerto Rican food and presents. My addiction to my iPad became evident during the 9 hour period I spent there.
That concludes the craziest Christmas I have had in my life.