Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Traditions Old and New

I remember at some point in my childhood, we used to open gifts at midnight.  I can't remember if this came before we used to open them on Christmas morning, or after.  When I was about 5-6 years old, I had already begun to suspect that maybe Santa wasn't real.  We were going to visit my Tio Coco in Philadelphia and would be there during Christmas, and I just knew in my heart that Santa wouldn't be coming because Santa was really my mom and dad, and well, they'd be with us in Philadelphia.  I still remember opening the door to the little apartment we lived in and seeing the living room flowing with presents.  That was the moment I knew he was real. 

As I got older, life got more complicated, divorce set in and the holidays became more of a tug of war than something to be merry about.  It's hard for me to silence those demons during these months.  I really love Christmas.  I love the religious aspect of it, and I love the St. Nick aspect of it, too.  I love the colors and lights and the busy-ness and the idea of happy kids on Christmas morning.  And that's why it's so hard.  Because I still want to be one of those happy kids on Christmas morning.  But as you get older, it just isn't the same.  Having kids changed that for me a little, because now I get to create the scene to bring out the perfect look of surprise and glee in them.  It's priceless.  I love the way it makes me feel. 

Anyway, when I got married, that brought a bunch of new traditions to the table, traditions that quickly sandwiched mine because, well, I didn't really have any and my husband does.   

Christmas day is really not that big of a deal for the latins I know (this includes my South American family).  Noche Buena, or Christmas Eve, is the really big day of festivities for most hispanics down here.  In the Cuban culture, it's a day of pig roasting and dancing and overindulgence and love and laughter.  And it starts tomorrow.

Christmas Eve Eve (as I used to call the days before Christmas when I was little), my husband and his father go to the butcher's to pick out *the perfect pig*.  It has to be one big enough to feed the expected 40+ people.  For Jonathan's second Christmas, my husband decided it was time to start taking him to the butcher's, too.  Now that Bryan is old enough, he's going to join in on the tradition as well.  As much as it drives me a little batty inside, it makes me really happy to see how much it means to my father-in-law and the hubs. 

*Side note.  This troubles me on so many levels.  First of all, I cannot look at a dead pig.  I love the taste, but really, it grosses me out.  I'm a total woos about it.  Secondly, Jon Jon was 21 months old when he first went, and his favorite books were books about farm animals.  I really could not make the mental leap that he would be ok with going to pick out a dead animal which he would then light on fire and later eat.  Rest assured, he was totally fine. 

The poor pig, which I secretly name in my head (everyone deserves a proper burial, and if his is going to be in our tummies, he must have a proper name), sits on a long table in my in laws' living room thawing out.  It's fucking gross.  And fucking cold.  They put the AC on 40 (ok, not 40, but as cold as it will go) and he just sits there, spread eagle, melting away.  Ew.  

Christmas Eve, the hubs wakes up super duper early (either by choice or because my FIL comes to drag him out bed) and they go over to his house and start seasoning the pig. It sounds so much nicer in cuban talk:  "adobando el cerdo".    A ton of mojo, salt and garlic pepper.  And they build the Caja China early in the morning.  The caja china is this wooden box made specifically for roasting a pig.  It has a metal bottom which is where the charcoal goes, I think.  Or maybe it goes on top?  I don't know.  Remember...there's a dead pig in there, head and all.  I'm not looking much.  Around 3pm, the men start the fire and the pig goes in.  And roasts.  And roasts.  And roasts.  The guys all go over way before and play dominoes and drink beer and eat cheese and salami and chorizo and all kinds of freaking delicious stuff that you can munch on without saying you had a meal. Because you *cannot* have a meal.  You have to be STARVING when the pig is ready to fully appreciate the deliciousness of it.  Don't  you dare think about eating first.  It's forbidden.

Not me, man.  I'm home.  I'm home avoiding the dead pig smell like the plague.  At times, my children need me so I am forced to go over and pick them up.  I think my in laws do it on purpose, I swear.  They can't understand how I can eat my steak bleeding red but can't look at a pig.  I try to explain that if I had to butcher the cow myself, or hang out with his dead fucking body before I ate him, I probably wouldn't be so gung ho about my bloody steak, but they still don't get it.  

Oh, God, I just remembered that last year, Jonathan saw the pig had nipples.  So he asked where his mommy was because he wanted to drink some boobie.  And then he ate him.  No problem.  No mental trauma.  Hahaha- us adults have all the hang ups!

Alright, so about an hour before the pig is done, the vultures start hovering.  Supposedly, the cooked skin is one of the most delicious parts.  So everyone just lingers around like seagulls on a pier, waiting to see when the Chefs are going to tear off a piece of the pellejito or chicharron (which is cooked crispy skin) and give it to them.  Seriously, sometimes they fight for it.  Ew. Ew. Ew.

And then the moment of truth.  The pig is READY!!  There's a loooooooong table set up which sits 20 on each side and we all sit down to eat together.  My MIL and SIL make all the other sides -- yucca with garlic mojo, black beans, rice, salad, bread and all kinds of different desserts like flan, arroz con leche, tres leches, and some key lime pie. Hahahaha.   I mean really, we are in the USA. :-P

And for all my "ewing" and gagging, the pig is fucking delicious.  The meat is perfectly cooked and just melts in your mouth.  I get to watch my boys run around with their cousins and they are so excited that Santa is coming soon.  

We leave around 11pm, although the party has been known to go on til the wee hours of the morning.  There was one year that my sister went and they stayed up karaoke-ing until 2am.  But the later the Munchkins stay up, the lighter they sleep, and I can't have them getting a peek at Santa.  Santa doesn't come if he thinks he's been seen...

Christmas day, the boys wake up at the crack of dawn and see that Santa really did come!  He ate the cookies we baked and he found a way in regardless of us not having a chimney.  He gave the carrots to his reindeer and all those questions about why he doesn't exercise aren't really important when he's come and brought all the gifts.  I make a regal breakfast fit for my King and make sure the four of us are napping by noon.  At around 6, we go to my sister-in-law's house where they have fresh cuban bread and chopped onions waiting for the whole family to get together again, but this time to eat "pan con lechon" (pork sandwiches).  It's divine.


This year, I'm throwing a wrench in the plan by making a turkey on Christmas day.  Hopefully, I can also throw a wrench in the plan by enjoying the day, and understanding the importance of family and tradition, instead of feeling threatened by it.   Logically, this experience sounds magical for my 3 boys, but emotionally, it's hard for me to deal, it's hard for me to share, it's hard for me to not be in control--  of myself and my emotions, or others.   

But, here I am, on Christmas Eve Eve, hoping to surprise myself. Hey, stranger things have a fat man with flying reindeer getting through a chimney and making it around the world in just one night... ;-)

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

PC - I'll tell you what bothers me!

A friend of mine just blogged about political correctness and how annoying it is.  I would linky up, but I don't know how to.  It made me think of what really annoys me.  And that's the political correctness surrounding breasts. 

My breasts have always been gorgeous.  And natural.  And soft and silky and all that is good and sexy and for half of my life, I've used them to my sexual advantage.  And I continue to do so.  I have no problem with cleavage and the power it gives you.  I have the luxury of living in a climate where plunging shirts are not only the norm, but a near necessity.

I have also been nursing every single day of my life for the last four years, nine months, eight days and forty-three minutes.

And I'm still perfectly ok with knowing that not only can my breasts raise two healthy, happy, intelligent gorgeous boys, but they can still get me out of a ticket once in a while.  And can always get my husband excited. 

I am surrounded all day with women who have a problem with this.  Whether it's women who don't want to breastfeed because they think the breasts are only sexual and that having a baby on the other end is ew! gross!  Or women who are offended by the sexualization of the breast because gosh darn it! breasts are for making milk and nothing else.  And really, I just want to know why they aren't, or can't be for both?  I mean, mine are, but what about yours?

I wanted to do our Breastfeeding Dept's Holiday Party at Hooters.  Not only because I really do love their fresh oysters, but because what I love most about being a mom who successfully nurses her two boys is that I can do it without being this wholesome, crunchy granola mom who thinks that anything short of using breasts for lactating purposes only somehow makes you less of a lactivist or untrue to "the cause", and instead, use my multitasking breasts for all their glory.   What better way to bring those two worlds together than by having a bunch of IBCLCs and future IBCLCs enjoying lunch surrounded by big, juicy breasts?!

Don't fret-- it was at some hibachi place. :-/

My breasts aren't as fabulous as they used to be.  Truth be told, I'm not as fabulous as I used to be either, being about 30+ lbs heavier than I need to be.  But, man, oh man, they've done a lot of good in their short life, and maybe one day, I'll even repay them with a little pick me up. 

Friday, December 11, 2009

Really? No, Really?!

Al Sharpton Blasts Tiger Woods for Lack of Mistress Diversity


The Rev. Al Sharpton held a press conference today to blast Tiger Woods for the lack of diversity among his mistresses. Sharpton claims that the lack of African-American women among Woods’ harem will have a negative affect on the black community, specifically young black girls.

“Why is it that a man who calls himself black can’t bring himself to cheat on his wife with a black woman?” said Sharpton, speaking to a group of supporters in Harlem . “What does it say to young black girls everywhere when you pass them over? Shame on you, Tiger Woods. What would your daddy say?”

Sharpton, who has long championed taking black women as mistresses, said that today’s black athletes need to stop neglecting black women when it comes to extramarital affairs, and should follow the examples of positive black role models such as Jesse Jackson and Martin Luther King, Jr., both of whom cheated on their wives with black women. Sharpton also stressed that cheating with African-American women would help the black community financially by giving black girls the chance to sell their stories to tabloids and gossip magazines.

Added Sharpton, “I’m not asking you to not cheat on your wives, I’m just asking you to give back to your own community.”

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Impulse Shopping

I'm guilty.  Ugh.  I get this sick rush of hormones, and then tachycardia. I just bought the kids' final Christmas present and it was an impulse buy because it wouldn't be on sale for much longer.  But now, here I am wondering if I really wanted to get them *that* one.  Because originally, I wanted to get them the other one, but then today, they saw this one and said it was the one they asked Santa to bring them.  So I got it.  But I secretly wonder if they would have liked the other one better.  I guess if I'm the only one who knows about the other one, then it doesn't much matter.  But oooooh, the pressure!!!  And this, people, is how my mind works when I impulse shop.  It supersucks.

I've been really quiet lately.  Not just on here, but in real life, too, which is not like me.  This family stuff has totally brought me down and it always happens around the holidays.  I look at people who are just overcome with holiday cheer and I love them.  I want them to take me home.  I love to see the energy, the sparkle in their eye, the hop in their step.  If it were up to me, I'd love the holidays.  There isn't anything to dislike about the season of giving.  It seriously makes me euphoric to pick out *the* perfect gift.   And to have reasons to listen to Christmas carols.  I love me some Christmas carols.  Bryan has taken a definitive liking to Little Drummer Boy, which makes me smile.

Bry is having another vomiting bout.   I took him to the specialist in September who said that if he got sick again, I had to take him to get blood work, so I took a pukey kid in the car and drove 20 minutes.  And then was forced to wait in an overcrowded reception area for an hour and change.  Whaddayathink happened?!  C'mon, guess! Guess!!  Yeahp.  Puke.  All over.  And on the way home, too.  My poor baby.  I broke down and cried in front of about 50 total strangers, but man, what I would have done to take that pain away from my baby.

I really try my hardest to look at the bright side of things- to find the good.  There really is always good.  And I don't do this because I'm oh so peppy and optimistic.  Because I'm not.  But I know that if I don't do that, everything will spiral downward from the point that I mentally give up.

So here it's the bright side of spending an entire day with puke all over you, without sleep and doing 6 loads of laundry in 5 hours, while taking your baby to get 6 viles of blood taken out of his already weak body and hearing him yell for you and at you because you were the one holding him down in the hopes of getting some answers...  18 years ago today, my mom kicked me out of the house.  I remembered this at about 3am, as I was wiping puke from Bry's nose.  Normally, this memory would ruin my entire day.  And for about 30 minutes, I let it get a hold of me.  But I remembered what I felt like at 3 am, as I wiped puke from Bry's nose.  And that was that as painful as it was to have your mother give up on you at 15, to be thrown out in the middle of the street with nowhere to go, and to have a stranger and her family take you in until your father decided a month later he should probably come for you, me being there, at 3 am, with my son in arms, taking care of him made today special.  And not because it was the anniversary of some horrible memory forever etched in my heart.  But because today I got to break the cycle. 

Jesus, I'm a total downer!!  Ha ha.  I swear, this was supposed to be about my impulse shopping! :)