Growing up, I embraced my biculturalism– that is, that of being Latina and living in the U.S.– particularly during the holidays. And why wouldn’t I embrace it? For starters, Latinos tend to extend the Christmas season through at least the first week of January, ending on Epiphany, or “Three Kings Day.”
Being an only child, I looked forward to spending many of my Christmases with my extended family in Puerto Rico. Cousins, aunts, uncles, and grandparents filled the house, as did food and music, and lots of love, laughter and mirth.
In the past few years, it’s getting increasingly difficult to spend Christmas as a family. With airline ticket prices skyrocketing, and also because I wanted to spend Christmas Day this year somewhere “chilly,” my family opted not to visit Puerto Rico for la Navidad.
That was hard, but I don’t regret it. My parents and I made a roadtrip with stops in Charleston, South Carolina and Charlotte, North Carolina. We spent two nights in the historic Charleston, made notorious by the Civil War, before heading up to see our dear friends in Charlotte.
This is to say, we spent the greater part of Christmas week riding in a cramped SUV, stopping multiple times along the way, yearning for any weather that was at least a few degrees colder than Orlando– which was not hard to find.
I stayed up late Christmas night, watching the classic, maybe even cliché “It’s a Wonderful Life,” with the fireplace flickering away in our pre-Civil War room in the bed and breakfast in Charleston. I can’t imagine a more idyllic way to spend the night that has been immortalized in so many black-and-white classics.
The following day, we met up with our friends, who cooked for us and showered us with love and attention. We even celebrated my birthday– again!
My family has never been one to find a tradition and stick with it– except perhaps for our fly-by-the-seat-of-our-pants style, as we demonstrated by not booking anything in advance. (It practically gave some of our friends a heart attack!) We march– or rush frantically– to the beat of our own drum, making our own last-minute plans along the way.
Whether it’s an American-style Christmas Eve with the fireplace crackling, or a Puerto Rican-style Noche Buena with coquito and pernil, and música, we make it special in our own way.
What never changes is our sense of solidarity, and our desire to make Christmas a time we spend together, even when we’re apart from most of the family.
I guess that’s where I get my belief that the family that Christmases together, does indeed stay together.
**Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Britax (follow on Twitter) and I will be compensated. I am a member of the Britax Latina Advisory Board. All ideas and opinions are my own.
© 2012, Laurita. All rights reserved.