This week, in a normal year (remember those?), I would have donated and helped hand out canned goods and coats at the mission down the street. I would have picked up a fresh turkey, fresh cranberries, baking and sweet potatoes, spinach, corn, and the ingredients for baking bread, muffins, and pumpkin pies for Christmas dinner.
If it was my turn to host our family, the white linen tablecloth and napkins would be pressed, white candles bought, the good plates washed and the silver polished. I would have gathered greenery, berries, and picked grape leaves from the grapevines in the courtyard to decorate the grapevine wreaths on my front door and the kitchen door. I love Christmas.
On Christmas Eve, the appropriate-sized baking pans, bowls, pots, and cooking utensils would be washed and ready for morning. Cookbooks propped open to favorite family recipes, piled one on top of the other in order of preparation, would wait on the oak table in my kitchen. The aroma of simmering cinnamon sticks, cloves, cranberries, and orange peel would fill my home as I wait for my children to arrive. I’m happiest when surrounded by my children and family.
Around 8 in the morning, still in my pajamas with a good café con leche, food prepping would begin–cutting, chopping, dicing, boiling mashing, sautéing, and blanching—with Christmas music playing in the background. My children would join me later in the kitchen. We have wonderful memories of Christmases past.
Christmas 2020 will be different.
This Christmas season, I’m blessed to spend time with my daughter and her boyfriend and we will sorely miss my son and his girlfriend. We will miss family. The separations will remind us how different this holiday season is, but what is normal this year? Not much. Our lives will never be the same…and if I think on it, for some of us, that’s a very good thing. Change is good. And Lord knows, this nation needs drastic changes.
Despite the challenges, heartaches, and anxiety of 2020, we shall make new memories, have fun, take photographs to share with each other at a later time, and count ourselves truly blessed.
From my home to yours, I wish you a safe and healthy holiday season. Stay safe.
Puerto Rican-born Eleanor Parker Sapia is the author of the multi-award-winning novel, “A Decent Woman”, published by Winter Goose Publishing. Eleanor’s debut novel, set 1900 Puerto Rico, garnered awards at the 2016 and 2017 International Latino Book Awards. She is featured in the anthology, “Latina Authors and Their Muses”, edited by Mayra Calvani.
Eleanor is working on her second novel “The Laments”, set in 1926 Puerto Rico, and a collection of poems, titled “Thoughts on Near-Fictional Relationships”. The poems are about the many facets of love, which often remind her of the complicated relationship between the United States and Puerto Rico.