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The streets are empty and unadorned. With their paltry displays of gifts, shop windows only hint at the season, which was once so colorful. There is an absence of ornaments but also of products and resources, and 2014 is forecast to be full of hardships and difficulties. Christmas Eve and Christmas Day do not seem to exist for the media, which only makes reference to the “celebration” of the 55th anniversary of an event that brought pain to the Cuban nation.

In the early hours of the appointed day, we could not observe the old sight of happy people full of packages circulating through the neighborhood. At night the streets are dark with only a few neighbors about. Unlike us, very few people bother to decorate their balconies and doorways with garlands of lights, not only because the custom has been disappearing, but also because they are expensive and are very few shops sell them.

On the 24th the rich aromas were absent. There was nothing to remind us of those wonderful evenings when we shared with family and close friends our dreams and fantasies for the coming year at tables laden with delicacies. Back then, even the humblest home had at least a little ham or a nice piece of pork, black beans, yucca and salad to share on that magical evening.

Though our families are spread across the globe, I refuse to give up one of the few traditions we have left, so I prepared an early dinner for my husband, who is recovering from an operation, and myself. This was because, unlike other years, we were not at the home of the only family member left in Cuba or of a friend.

I prepared some black beans, yucca with garlic sauce, thin pork cutlets and a nice salad. A friend gave us some wonderful Jijona almond brittle and I allowed myself the “luxury” of buying a bottle of Spanish wine, which costs almost the same as the domestic brand but is much better. And so it was just the two of us. We dined, toasted our family members and friends, and later watched a very good English television series that we rent called Spooks from the BBC, which I highly recommend.

27 December 2013

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