Wednesday, December 24, 2003

The Christmas post

Wednesday 24, December 2003

'twas the night before Christmas

Well, in Venezuela it is the night. The 25 is better described as hang-over recuperation period while kids play with their new and sometime "noisy" toys.

Christmas at home are much simpler than they used to be. Aging parents, married siblings having to juggle different holidays in different families, relatives and friends leaving Venezuela for long vacations (or for good). Gone are the days when up to 40 people showed up and where dancing lasted until the wee hours.

We will only be 7 tonight and instead visit each other family group over the next few days (eating left overs?). Still, it does feel like Christmas anyway, in spite of the very low firecrackers decibel level this year, courtesy of the street dollar value.

At home we did hallacas yesterday, a rather rare activity since my parents are from Europe. So tonight we will have an unusual good mix of all sorts of food from the new and the old countries. Not that we do not like Venezuela fare! Far from it! We eat hallacas or pan de jamon almost every day from mid December until January 6, our official Christmas end at home, on Epiphany. But Christmas eve was old country on the table.

The nice thing about Venezuelan holidays is that they have two big bangs, on the 24 and 31, and they slowly peter out until January 6 when the Kings bring a few extra goodies (some people keep teir lights up until February 2, La Virgen de la Candelaria). When I lived in the US I was always a little bit taken aback when on December 26 the parking lot of K-mart was already shredding Christmas trees. Such a cold shower... Here I will have gaitas and some Christmas tunes all the way until New Year. Actually we have several traditional songs written for the New Year!

Maybe there is a clue there as to why we like to extend our political conflicts for such long periods...

Have a good Christmas and thanks for the best wishes received. May the next year bring more hope to my country and the best in your countries.

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