By Rosa Martinez
HAVANA TIMES – It’s just about 7 AM on December 25, 2019. Even though Christmas doesn’t mean anything special for my non-Christian family, as it does in many other places in the world, as Cubans we know that there is only one thing that this (small or ostentatious) celebration can’t go without, and that’s every member of our family tree. The only ones who are allowed to be absent are those living outside Cuba, the rest know that family is sacred, and they should all be here.
This is what my daughters most enjoy about Christmas: their family. They are used to being around my parents all the time, because I’m the only daughter and I live nearby. Their grandparents’ home is a safe place for all of their woes and happiness. But at that time of year, they also have the company of my two brothers, their children and wives, in addition to these older “parents”.
My children sleep with their grandparents the night before Christmas, just like all the grandchildren do (as my brothers and I did when we didn’t have children), but now we sleep in our homes, although we get back together early on Christmas morning.
As I’m the one who lives the nearest, and because they call me the prop of the family, I needed to get to the house very early, and I did.
But as soon as I got to my parents’ house, something absolutely awful happened; in my haste to get everything done early on so that the youngest could eat lunch early, and leave everything ready for a grand dinner in the evening, I dropped an entire frozen chicken from the freezer to the lowest part of the fridge.
It was such a resounding and blunt fall that it split the glass division in the fridge, where there was a bottle of tomato puree, another with olives, as well as corn flour, green onions in vinegar, and other things that fell and smashed on the floor.
Just as the 10-pound chicken had fell with the rest of the food, I also fell on my knees, inconsolably weeping and unable to stop.
After the crash, my parents quickly came to the scene and were really scared when they saw me on the floor (they thought that I had been hurt) and with my parents making so much noise and a hoo ha, two of my nieces and nephews also came.
But I couldn’t see anything or anyone, I was just crying with great anguish.
But why are you crying, aunty? one of them said it happens to everyone. Please, get up… Come, I’ll help you.
But I felt like I had lost all of my strength with that fall, that along with that great amount of glass that had unexpectedly broken, something within me had also broken, that in every food spilled across the floor, there was also a part of me that had fought so hard, but all my efforts had been in vain…
As my eyes gradually adjusted to see all that mess on the floor, I remembered all of the rough times I had gone through in those nearly 360 days, all of the lost battles, frustrated efforts, abandoned challenges… and my sobbing silently continued.
But my mother was there, and as mothers know their children better than they themselves, she knew that I wasn’t crying about the glass (although it’ll be very hard to replace, impossible even), nor about the food that had now gone to waste (although it had been a great investment).
My mother was sure that the only important thing that broke during that accident, was something within me; but she also felt that as the fighting woman I am and her daughter, I would soon recover, I just needed a little space.
So, she dragged me to her bedroom (which is the safest place in the entire world) and after some bellows of everyone get to work, the dining room was left clean and tidied, and that was the end of the accident.
But don’t worry, my dear readers, we celebrated Christmas like we always do: with a family dinner, some drinks, lots of stories and laughter, and all of us, absolutely all of us, at home together.