I watch from the kitchen window as my grandpa stands outside with his close friends. The three men beam proudly as my grandpa turns the large pig around the spit, revealing the already cooked side. The pig is a golden-brown color and gleams in the firelight.
“Abuelito,” I cry from the kitchen, “when will the lechón be ready?”
“Soon enough princess. Esperate,” he replies.
All year long my family had been anticipating the annual Christmas Eve party at my grandparent’s house. My family flies from all parts of the U.S. to be together during this joyous holiday. Thinking about the taste of the sweet, succulent pig makes my mouth water. Waiting for my cousins and family friends to arrive makes me jittery and excited.
Abuelita nags me, “Santa Claus no va a venir esta noche si tu no me ayudas, Denisse.”
“Ah verdad! Santa Clause is coming! Lo siento Abuelita. I’ll finish setting the table,” I respond.
The phone rings, and my grandma rushes to answer the call, eager for an opportunity to gossip. I dodge out of her way only to find my aunts, uncles, and cousins entering through the front door. Hugs and kisses go all around as we form a welcoming party in the living room. The house begins to fill with joy and laughter.
Two hours later, I am outside finishing my lechón and arroz y habichuelas. The coqui begin singing as the sun sets. Bombazo Navideño music blares from the outdoor speakers. One of my uncles emerges from the crowd holding the favorite box of traditional Puerto Rican instruments. My uncle hands me a tambourine and soon, my family and friends gather to sing along to traditional Puerto Rican carols.
As the crowd sings, I look around. Our party is a feast for the eyes with the bright candles gleaming and beautiful holiday decorations all around. But more importantly, our party is filled with love. For one night a year my family lets go of all grudges. My nosy grandmas and aunts stop pestering me with their curiosity about my personal life. My family is usually loud but today we are louder than usual. I can feel the bond that my family has. This bond is unshakable and is seen when we gather together. My family also has a sense of pride. This pride is due to my family’s love for each other and love of our culture. We proudly mix old Puerto Rican traditions with new American customs.
And as I continue to look at all my family I realize they have taught me the most important lessons of all, to learn to love culture, tradition, and family. I can’t say that my family doesn’t have bad moments and catastrophes but I can say that we stick together through those rough times and make up for on days like Christmas. Nosotros somos la Marquez familia. We are the Marquez family.
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