Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Deck the halls with boughs of banana leaves

Thanksgiving just came and went, and now it's officially The Holiday Season.

Preparing for holidays, and looking for ways to incorporate the traditions of your own country with those of your new one, can be interesting. My mom and sister came to visit for Thanksgiving, and while most of the spread was your standard Turkey Day fare (not to say it wasn't absolutely delicious -- I love a traditional Thanksgiving feast), we tried to include a couple of PR touches. My mom made arroz con gandules, and she and I made coquito.

The arroz con gandules was eaten, for the most part. The coquito was given only a cursory tasting. Why is that? If people will drink eggnog, then why not coquito? I know it's not the same as eggnog, but I have to say that a coconut and milk drink sounds better to me than an egg drink. And if it's spiked with rum, even better! I had my coquito and loved every bit, but it's not quite the same when not too many people join you.

Now that I'm starting to think about Christmas and New Year's, I'm looking for ways to bring a bit of PR to Oregon. But there are obstacles. For example, throwing a bucket of water out the front door when the clock strikes midnight on New Year's Eve isn't as festive if you consider that the cold temperatures will turn the water into ice, and then you've got a potential lawsuit on your hands. Or you could try to start a parranda, but forget about lawsuits: you'd likely have an angry friend yelling obscenities at you for waking them up in the middle of the night and demanding to be let in to party and be fed.

There are also traditions I'm happy to have left behind. To wit, the constant barrage of firecrackers that people like to set off just after Thanksgiving and all throughout the Christmas season. And what about those things that people call cuartos de dinamita? Are those really dynamite? But let's not forget about those who like to shoot their guns into the air at midnight on New Year's Eve. 'Tis the season for post-traumatic stress syndrome!

I'm starting to form new traditions. This year will be the second time that I'll head to a Christmas tree farm with my husband and in-laws to cut down my own Christmas Tree. I have some hand-me-down ornaments that my mom gave me -- I remember when she bought them, and hopefully they'll last me a long time. I love putting them up and remembering past holidays. And while in PR my New Year's Eves were spent with family, over here we've started to spend that night with friends. We get together at someone's house, or close our eyes and hand over a crazy cover charge to go catch some live music and festivities. But in one way or another, I hope to be able to bring the holiday season, PR-style, to Oregon. If I can't throw water out the door, I'll sweep out the bad juju instead. Or hand out grapes for people to eat (twelve each, for good luck on each month of the year). Sure, I'll have to take the time to explain these things to people. But if anything, I've found that my friends enjoy learning about these things, and will happily partake. It won't mean the same thing to them as it does to me, but there's something almost equally satisfying about showing people how things are done where you're from, and having them enjoy it.


Olga said...

If you get together with your friends you can show them the lyrics to "Saludos, saludos, vengo a saludar....". Or what about playing the Hector Lavoe & Willie Colon album "Asalto Navideno"?

Thumper said...

We gave up trying to give people coquito here--waste of good liquor! Drink it ourselves instead. And I haven't even been able to FIND any gandules to make arroz con gandules here in Portland! Guess pasteles are out of the question.

We're having a Dia de los Reyes party instead...gives me a couple extra weeks to find gandules.

Jen said...

I find gandules at a grocery store on NE 32nd and Glisan....about a block up from a restaurant called Pambiche. They have Goya but they also have a brand called El Jibarito -- when faced with those two brands, it's El Jibarito for the win!

Anonymous said...

Jenny, instead of coquito, treat your friends with cañita!!!!! se mueren!!!!

Anonymous said...

La del cañita fui yo, Annie!!!

Anonymous said...

Jenny, me encanto lo que dijiste de tirar agua pa' fuera en NYE. Tienes mucha razon. Y tambien lo de darle una parranda a la gente de alla.

Me encanto!!


Anonymous said...

I am hosting a 3 kings party for my neighbors here in Southern California. The kids and I are going to go pick them up singing Saludos, the closest thing to a parranda. I found your site looking for the music on the internet.... I am also incorporating the Rosca for I am also Mexican (I have never had it before, so I picked one up at Sams club.) My neighbor says whoever get the baby Jesus hosts next year. Let's see how they like the pernil, arros, habichuelas, maduros, coquito, dulce de coco! If not they will leave hungry!
I am planning on reading a book on Dia de los Reys and having the kids leave their shoes out (like in Spain) instead of boxes. Wish me luck... where is that coquito I can start early! My kids said Dora the Explorer is doing a show- so they can watch it... I miss my island....