One of the things that we miss the most, as immigrants, is the music of our native lands. As of December 16, many of our countries have “posadas.” In Colombia there are novenas from December 16th until Christmas eve. These traditions take us from house to house, with neighbors, family and friends getting together to sing Christmas carols, to share food and wine and sometimes to dance. All it takes for a visit to become a party is for someone to put on danceable music. For children the most important event of the season is the arrival of Santa Claus, loaded with gifts. A Colombian friend recently told me on my radio show, La Mesa Redonda, that her family was so poor that all her mother bought was clothing as a Christmas present.
Her recollection may serve to remind us that the most important thing is not that we fill up with gifts or that gifts have to be expensive. The gesture of love and generosity means more that the money spent to please us. The truth is that despite the commercialization of the holidays, what matters most to us is the ability to share with our friends and family. For some reason at this time of year I also remember the starry sky of those days of my youth when you could see more clearly the stars in the sky. Now the stars hide behind the urban lights. The customs of other countries help us to illustrate how this feast can be celebrated in thousands of ways. In Lithuania no one can open a gift until they recite a poem and in Australia the red nose is on a kangaroo. In our countries the air fills with music and the memories of yesteryear fill our hearts with joy.