Growing up Puerto Rican in the South Bronx meant that Christmas time was a time of coquito (a rum Puerto Rican eggnog-like concoction), parrandas (caroling with maracas, drums and guitars) and family gatherings. We never had a big Christmas tree. we had those mini ones that could stand on a table as there were really not that many gifts to be placed under the tree anyway. Christmas was never my favorite holiday. I absolutely adored Halloween since my family didn’t have to spend money they didn’t have. I got to go to stores (in New York City stores are the place to go trick or treating) and get candy without paying a cent I couldn’t afford.
Fast forward a couple of decades and I cannot get enough of Christmas and Hanukkah as we are a blended family. Seeing the holidays through the eyes of a kid is an amazing experience. As we are about to head out to Berlin next week for vacation, started laying out some of the gifts under the tree. The screech of joy that came out of my son’s body was just something I will never, ever forget. In a world where there is so much fear, death and anger in the media and on the streets, that sheer happiness erases for a few minutes all the world’s ugliness.
The lighting of the candles for the menorah takes on a special significance reminding my son of his vast mixed heritage. The holidays are just not about the gifts-although a six year’s delight in the gifts is quite obvious and joyful. It is about learning about oneself, one’s past and one’s future. Why else do we often conjure up the ghosts of Christmas past and future? This time of the year is not just about taking and giving, but about forging new paths and relationships with one’s kin and one’s soul.
This Chrismukkah has taken on a very special meaning to me as I have decided on a path that will take me to the next level. I am excited to take on new challenges. According to the Chinese calendar, 2015 is the year of the sheep. For many, sheep are meek creatures and thus the year of the sheep may be a dreadfully anticipated year for many. Yet, for me it will not be a year of the meek. It will be a year of bold choices and bold moves. Its great to have such a year before us, because we can then act with purpose-a counter purpose. This will now be the time to fight off the urge to be meek and instead to take on the world. Yes, this Chrismukkah will be filled with joy when considering a six year old boy’s current gleeful state of being and considering what emboldened 2015 will bring.