Friday, January 2, 2009

Navidad

I skidded to a stop against the wooden bar that circled the room. Carreening teenagers brushed past me and my seven year old, laughing and screaming they veered about wildly.
It was Christmas Eve. and we'd taken the kids to the tiny, local, ice skating rink. The girls were doing much better this time. Taking risks, and trying to skate, as opposed to clinging white-knuckled to the bar on the edge.
Three hours later we were rushing through the streets in our most uncomfortable clothes. Chloe's best friend from school called and invited us to her play at her church. Having been raised as a preacher's kid, I knew how to dress for church on Christmas Eve and much to Chloe's objections, jeans were out of the question.
We arrived at the church and went in the side door which was open. Much to my suprise we were in an ancient gymnasium, with a concrete floor. Running late, we sat in the back on plastic chairs that had been set up in rows. In the front was a woman with a microphone leading the choir, and Chloe pointed out (not so quietly) most everyone else's attire was jeans, of course.
The service was amazing. Spanish hyms were projected on a big screen in the front. The choir was accompanied by expert guitarists, and the preacher spoke only briefly.The nativity play had beautiful sets and costumes and her friend did a great job in her part.
It ended with "Noche de Paz" (Silent Night)and an amazingly upbeat song of fellowship. We all sang "Feliz Navidad" and everyone hugged and kissed each other (and us). The energy was incredible. It was so exciting and friendly. The children happily accepted "gifts" of candy from the "wise men" in the play, and then it was over.
On Christmas afternoon I recieved the news that my grandmother, Claire Norton-Taylor, passed away. She was 94 years old, had short term memory loss and had been very lonely these recent years since my Grandfather died three years ago. These are the things I repeated to myself to ease the sadness I felt.
My Grandmother was born in Philadelphia in 1914. As a child she survived the flu pandemic that swept across the nation and killed people in plague like proportions. She was born into a wealthy family and they had a crystal radio. The very first kind of radio available, though she said nothing much was on the air.
In high school, at the dawn of the age of the automobile, she had a car. She lived through the depression, when her family lost everything, the second world war, the civil rights movement and the dawn of the space age. They say when an old person dies, a library burns. I say everyone has stories to tell....This is why I have a blog. Happy 2009 everyone!!

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