Last Saturday, December 11, instead of braving the harried crowd at the Columbia Mall, I treated myself to a morning visit with the Bonilla family -- Jenny and Michael and their four children,Tomas (15), Lily (10), Sebastian (7), and Lukas (4). I had asked Jenny if I might hear from the family about their traditions around this holiday time.
The Christmas tree was set up and waiting for the lights and ornaments to further adorn it. The Bonillas have a complicated (at least to me) tradition of each child being given a special ornament each year and a " family" ornament. That way, when all grown up and starting homes and families of their own, each child will have ornaments to adorn their trees and Jenny and Michael will have ornaments that remind them of all of those precious years when the kids were growing up. I think that's the way it goes. As I said, it's complicated, but very sweet.
And there are, of course, food traditions that the Bonilla family follows annually. Christmas Eve is celebrated with Jenny's father and because her ancestors were from Scandinavia, they always have Swedish meatballs, red cabbage, and "homemade mac 'n cheese" (that doesn't sound Scandinavian!). Christmas Day, in a bow to his Dominican Republic heritage, Michael makes his "famous" puerco asado (pork roast), tostones (fried green plantains), ensalada de papás (potato salad), and arroz con habichuelas negra (black beans with rice). This is making turkey with mashed potatoes sound a trifle lame, just sayin'.
And if you still haven't had enough celebrating, wait until Three Kings Day, the Feast of the Epiphany (google it) on January 6 when each Bonilla child receives a gift from each of the Three Magi. So, it's good to be a Bonilla around Christmas time!
But, what I will remember most about my lovely visit with the Bonillas last Saturday was their retelling of the story of how they met. It was in a New York night club and Michael asked Jenny to dance, he says because she is so tall (and pretty), as he is also tall. So they started to dance and, as they both described it to me this many years later, time and space literally stood still for the both of them and they became the only two people on that dance floor. Love at first sight, how romantic!
So, as I leave for Park City to celebrate the holiday with my daughter and her family and my son and his, I want to wish all of you a very warm and safe holiday season and a Happy and healthy New Year.