Me, my brothers and sister and my Cousin's at Christmas Time...Christmas time is always very nostalgic for me. In my family, Christmas Eve has always been our day to get together and have a traditional Puerto Rican meal. My Mom is in charge of the feast now but when my Grandma was alive Christmas Eve dinner was her thing!
We would all gather at my Grandparent's house for Christmas Eve dinner every year. We didn't have a long commute because my Grandparent's lived downstairs! All day we would smell the wonderful pernil that had to be cooked all day. It would drive us nuts and we waited with anticipation for my Grandpa to call us downstairs for dinner.
My Grandma cooked the whole meal by herself. No one was allowed in her kitchen to help! The only thing we helped her prepare was the pasteles, which had to be assembled, wrapped and frozen days ahead of the big day. She would also make arroz con gandules and for dessert she always made flan and rice pudding.
Once dinner was ready, we would all take turns at the table eating. All my aunts, uncles and cousins were there and we could never all fit at the table to eat together. The ones that had to wait would gather in my Grandparents small living room and talk and laugh. The apartment would be so loud but I know my Grandpa loved it because he was so happy that everyone was there. My poor Grandma was always stressed because she never thought the food tasted good (but it was always delicious!) and she always ate last. No matter how many of us told her to sit and eat, she would insist on eating after everyone was finished.
After dinner and dessert, we would all head to my aunt's house down the block (again we did not have a long commute!). The party would continue and the adults would really get loose. The volume of the party turned up with lots of salsa music, coquito and silliness. We would wait until midnight and we were all allowed to open one present. That usually turned into us opening whatever our relatives bought for us! I have so many funny stories of those after dinner parties but I will save those for another post!
Christmas Eve has not been the same since my Grandma passed away. We don't all get together like we used to. My Grandpa stopped spending Christmas in NY because it was too painful for him. He would go to Puerto Rico for Christmas. Now he is in heaven spending Christmas with Grandma and I know they are happy!
We are making our own Christmas traditions now. Like I said before, my Mom does the cooking and now she doesn't want any help! My aunts, uncles and cousins do their own thing on Christmas Eve. But I'm hoping that they all take the time to remember all the Christmas Eves we spent together taking turns to eat at Grandma's table!