Thursday, January 8, 2009

A New Year begins

On January 1st I hosted a New Year's Day gathering of the East Coast division of my family. To my surprise and delight, everyone showed up with one exception. As I had predicted, the gathering was crowded, noisy and boisterous but no one seemed to mind at all. It had been such a long time since we had all gathered together that just being together was enough to create a jovial atmosphere. We were 36 people strong crammed into the first floor of my home. It was a festive, happy, energizing gathering.

It was a potluck affair with everyone contributing a dish. I spent over an hour in the kitchen frying tostones, the traditional fried green plantains that are so common in the spanish-speaking Caribbean. I couldn't cook them fast enough and people were snapping them up as fast as they could hit the platter. I actually had my young cousins waiting over my shoulder, like pups hoping for something to fall on the floor so they could pounce on it. My uncles all made out like bandits, grabbing the biggest and crunchiest ones for themselves.

At one point I called everyone to attention to thank them for being a part of this family gathering, to wish my cousin Frankie a happy birthday and to raise a toast to his parents, my dear aunt and uncle, who would be making the trip back to Florida with him to relocate. I choked up at the thought of them leaving and it was all I could do to hold back the tears. One of my cousins from Arizona had sent me an email that she wanted me to read to the assembly, which I did. It was great to have a "virtual" representative from our West coast division present in the room with us.

Then my cousin David, my aunt and uncle's youngest son, took the floor. David was known to be more than a handful as a child and was a source of concern as a young man, causing more than a few gray hairs for his parents in his day. With all of us bearing witness, he spoke to his parents, acknowledging the headaches and heartaches he had caused them, thanking them for the wonderful job they did in raising him and expressing his love and affection for them. It was a totally unexpected, heartfelt and emotional outpouring that was captivating, endearing and left more than a few onlookers teary-eyed.

My uncle Paco, as I said in my last post, has been suffering from and is being treated for depression. On that day he ate, he drank, he danced, laughed and smiled in the way we all remembered him to be. This was no small feat considering he did little more than lay in bed for the last several months. It was a welcome sight for all, especially his wife Norma and their children for whom his condition is most distressing. This fact alone made the day a huge success. It was a day of love, laughter, food, family and fun. It was the meeting of past, present and future. It was a healing of great magnitude.

The pictures taken that day have been uploaded to my Photobucket account and I’ll be sending notification out to the family to check them out, particularly those who couldn’t be there. These images are more than just a chronicle of the day; they are a part of our history.

Ballo ergo sum,
Always and all ways,
- Gitana, the Creative Diva

1 comment:

  1. I am so glad you had a wonderful day! It is amazing to hae everyone together and celebrating - I know I love when our family is able to do that! I would be delighted if you would share your recipe too - I dont' get tostones often unless we are out at a small restaurant...would be fun to try my hand at them myself!