December 25, 2007

An Inca Kola Christmas
Lima, Peru

Burning baby Jesus

I've been chuckling to myself every day since the living room was decorated. A nativity scene has been set up inside the (fake) fireplace, and with the Christmas lights on, it looks like the figures are burning.

I've never seen so many stockings hanging on a fireplace mantel in my life—I think there are over a dozen of 'em. I shared with Tatiana and her siblings how in my family the stockings are traditionally found filled with candy and little gifts after Santa comes, and how coal has traditionally been placed in the stockings of naughty children.

I think it's interesting how many European and North American traditions have found a home in Latin America, but without the depth to their design. Many things are like a familiar echo—a diluted reflection, or an act without knowing.

Even though Tatiana had posted a cute little sign on her door announcing that I (we) really didn't want or need presents, the family got me stuff any ways. I don't have room for any more belongings in my pack, and was very content with the thought of just sitting back and watching the family do their thing. All I wanted for Christmas was for Tatiana and child to be healthy and happy.

Inca Kola at Christmas dinner

The Christmas Eve feast was wonderful. Everyday feels like Thanksgiving in the Boza home, revolving around a large, singular, mid-day meal that all seem to gather for. There was a cooked turkey larger than any I can remember seeing, pork, salad, applesauce, mashed sweet potatoes, pan de pascua, panettone, wine, and, of course, Inca Kola.

Cookin Coquito

I had decided to share something special with the Boza family, and prepared a very large batch of Puerto Rican eggnog for them, called coquito. Eggnog is completely absent in Latin America, save for this tropical Spanish variety I was fortunate enough to have indulged in on that island two years ago, and thought it would complement the mood.

It was their first exposure to the stuff, and a quite a delicious success. I absolutely loved the scene of glass mugs filled with eggnog in a room full of people opening presents, illuminated by white Christmas lights. If a real fire were burning in the fireplace instead of baby Jesus, I would have sworn the scene was one from back home. It was great.

As for the things the Boza family got me, well, they were mostly socks—several pair—as well as some other cute stuff. Everyone wears socks and slippers around the house, and next to being given pajamas, socks are how they showed they were happy to have me in their home. The pair that Tatiana gave me with little glove-like places for my toes was hilarious. I've the personality type that would wear any of these year-round. It's funny how a guy with no desire to have more material things in his life can be pleased by such a simple thing like socks.

Dinner at 11:30 p.m., fireworks, gift exchange—our Christmas Eve finally ended well after three o'clock in the morning. Gotta love that Latin twist on things.

Note: Comments are open to everyone. To reduce spam and reward regular contributors, only submissions from first-time commenters and/or those containing hyperlinks are moderated, and will appear after approval. Hateful or off-topic remarks are subject to pruning. Your e-mail address will never be publicly disclosed or abused.