Friday, December 12, 2008

Jennifer, here's the survey

1. Wrapping paper or gift bags? Wrapping paper, definitely.

2. Real tree or artificial? Real. I love the smell.

3. When do you put up the tree? We get it around this time. My mom's birthday is Dec 11 so we make it a birthday thing.

4. When do you take the tree down? As the good Spaniards we are, we celebrate Three Kings Day on Jan 6. So after that.

5. Do you like eggnog? I echo Jennifer on this one: Never even had it! (That said, I did read the ingredients and egg yolk, corn syrup and milk sound absolutely repulsive.)

6. Favorite gift received as a child? My American Girl doll, Kirsten, probably.

7. Hardest person to buy for? My sister, Ana. She buys herself whatever she wants so it can get tricky.

8. Easiest person to buy for? I don't think I can really answer this one at the moment. It always takes me too long to think about what anyone would really like. But, for now, I'll say I really like to shop for Ylaria and Shayla. It makes me feel like a kid again.

9. Do you have a nativity scene? My mom worked in a Catholic school for 10 years-ish. The question is not do we have ONE, but how very many do we have? It's a little ridiculous. I insisted this year that there was only ONE Jesus, but we still put out all 5 or whatever.

10. Mail or email Christmas cards? Definitely mail. It's the only time of year I get letters in the mail that don't tell me how much money I owe.

11. Worst Christmas gift you ever received? Underwear all with the different days of the week on it. I'm not even joking. As a 7 year old, I was MORTIFIED.

12. Favorite Christmas Movie? Oh, I love the cartoon classics, like How a Grinch Stole Christmas, the Year Without a Santa Claus, Frosty, Twas the Night Before Christmas....

Where did #13 go?

14. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present? Most likely.

15. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas? At Christmas my family generally eats: shrimp, lobster, clams, octopus, cow, some kind of fish, some other dead animal, and an insane amount of desserts. I love to eat it all. Unfortunately. But at least it gives me a great New Years Resolution to start the year with, right?

16. Lights on the tree? Hand down yes. I love colored lights on the tree but this year we went with only white which was nice too.

17. Favorite Christmas song? Too many to count and it totally depends on my mood. Mariah Carey's "All I Want For Christmas" is a favorite for very sentimental reasons. I love the classics, O Come All Ye Faithful, Joy to the World, Coventry Carol, Los Peces en el Rio, and John Lennon's War is Over is pretty great. Lastly, even though it's more an Advent song, I love "O Come, O Come, Emmanuel".

18. Travel at Christmas or stay home? Wherever my family is. Home for Christmas is my favorite.

19. Can you name all of Santa's reindeer's? You know Dasher and Dancer and Prancer and Vixen, Comet and Cupid and Donner and Blitzen. But do you recall, the most famous reindeer of all? Rudolph!! (Jennifer, I just kept your response here).

20. Angel on the tree top or a star? We've always had an angel. My aunt made it for my mom years ago.

21. Open the presents Christmas Eve or morning? We exchange family gifts on Christmas Eve at midnight (My family gets together on Christmas Eve. Christmas Day is usually for Mass and hangover recovery.) "Santa" (yes, my mom STILL insists on writing his name on gifts), gifts are opened on Christmas morning.

22. Most annoying thing about this time of the year? Too many people in NYC. I don't like to shop as it is...unless it involves a bookstore.

#23? What is it with this quesionnaire and 3s?????

24. Favorite for Christmas dinner? Please read response to #15.

25. What do you want for Christmas this year? A few good books and iTunes music would be great.

26. Who is most likely to respond to this? Ummm....well, I'm not even sure if anyone besides Jennifer reads this blog, so I have no idea.

27. Does Santa wrap your gift or leave them unwrapped? Wrapped. Always. How could he ever leave them unwrapped??!?!!? For a man who works one night a year, that'd be ccompletely unacceptable.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

This is the House. This is the Memory.

There is a house a block away from mine that at Christmastime reminds me of my brother.

You may think this is odd, seeing as it's not our house and I don't even know who lives there and I had never even seen it until 12 years after Manny died. But, it reminds me of what our house looked like and felt like on his last Christmas with us. It's not because we had the same moving reindeer, or the same wreath or the same lights. To be honest, I have no idea what it is exactly that makes this house so special. But, for whatever reason, it reminds me of moments, memories and feelings. It reminds me of Manny.

I remember how excited Manny was that Christmas. He was home and we were happy. I remember how he kept asking dad to put up more and more and more lights on the house. And I remember that at one point while we were decorating, a neighbor came out to put up more lights and Manny said (to my sisters and me, not the neighbor): "You think you can beat us. We'll put up more lights than you." And we did. It was my very favorite Christmas.

And so, at Christmastime for the last two years, I have found myself standing in front of that house at night when all of the lights are on, and crying. Because, beyond all possible reason, I want it to be December 1994, and I want to be decorating the house with my brother, and I want to still believe, with all my heart, that a world without him in it simply cannot exist. That his death is, literally, impossible, implausible, and unimaginable. I want the hope that he will live. I miss that hope. I miss my Manny. So very, very much.