Christmas Holidays!!!

IMG_1051Christmas has come and gone.  As most everyone else, I love this time of the year. On the other hand, I never know what to do: just let go and enjoy every minute or just reminisce. Those are not mutually exclusive, you would tell me, but they are in my mind. What to do!

My family loves Christmas and I have made it special throughout the years. I kept traditions, cooked, wrapped presents, decorated…I was exhausted by the time the Big Day arrived. Everyone seemed to enjoy the season, and I guess I did too. We all know this fact: Christmas is made of memories. These memories can be sad and happy, all at the same time. I am usually nostalgic at this time, as if I am thrilled and upset about having to celebrate. I have been told this is normal, whatever that means. Have never strived to be normal!!!

To be truthful, I tend to dwell on my past lives more than some during these days. Friends and family and celebrations we shared. From my earliest memories, back in Panama, when celebrations were not at all like the ones I learned to put together later on in life. Everything centered in the birth of Jesus, the manger in a place of honor with beautiful porcelain figurines. Family dinner on Christmas Eve, Midnight Mass and exchange of presents before going to bed. Everyone got enough presents to be happy, but never too many to appear wasteful. My parents were very good at this. Some days, I find myself humming Christmas carols I haven’t heard in years!!! In Spanish and very sentimental, these carols were part of my mother’s repertoire when she used to sing with us. Wonderful times.

IMG_1047Then I came to school in the States. Completely different culture, not unknown, but not totally familiar either.  Santa and stories of snowy celebrations, carols that were joyful hymns about sleighing and frightful weather and jingle bells became favorites!! I added them up to my traditions. During this time I met and married Frankie. His traditions were different, so when we had children, we adjusted and took from one and from the other and made new ones for our new family. Our children grew up with them and I have to say, it has been successful!

IMG_1043We settled in Curaçao and our Christmases became more than special. Most of Frankie’s family on the island is Jewish, so our celebration was very family oriented…very much only for ourselves! My in-laws, the children and us: dinner, presents, watching some special movies, carols. Morning Mass on Christmas Day. Those were the days when, I think, Christmas became such an important part of our family traditions: a time really for ourselves only. In many ways, it still is….but we are changing!

Since moving to Miami, new traditions have been started. We share Christmas Eve with my family and Frankie’s when we are here. He has enough cousins to make this celebration huge! We go there first. Then we go to Ana and Laura and her children. It is family, relaxed and fun. Some years, we have traveled and we have shared with friends. Of course, we have also been know to suffer from FOMO: Fear of Missing Out.  Missing the reunions with family and friends, missing the traditions, missing not sharing….just plain missing.

This year, Frank couldn’t be here for Christmas. He came the week before to celebrate with us. Dinner celebration for our anniversary and presents exchange afterwards. Worked beautifully!! The house was decorated: a real tree with all our ornaments, the ones we have bought along the years of being together, the ones the children have given us or made themselves all those years ago. Poinsettias, lights on the balcony, candles. It’s been a while since I did this.IMG_1035

Then there were the messages from friends all around the world. In these days when people are so stressed and so busy, it is wonderful to see that my friends take the time to keep in touch. Some of them do during the year, but others only touch base at this Joyous time. Never mind, all the news are important, all messages answered, good news celebrated and sympathy went out to those with not so good news…thankfully these were few and far between. These remnants of previous lives, of years spent abroad when your friends were your family and ties were formed that will always be there, make a good part of our cheer…every Christmas!

Christmas Eve was very peaceful, my family only at my sister Ana’s beautiful home….with delicious food and gift exchange. This is a time to celebrate being together and so we did.  Laughter and enjoyable recollections of times past.  It is wonderful to see that after all these years, my sisters and I still can make each other laugh. Unfortunately, I was under the weather, so Camille, Frankie and I went home early.

Next year, we will get together again and celebrate our similarities and our differences!! After all that is the real Spirit of Christmas!!!

She doesn’t at the Moment!

IMG_0932This is me a few days ago. IMG_0967…..It has been three months, one week and 4 days, since I last colored my hair, but who is counting…..well, maybe the people who see me everyday and do not know me well enough to ask what is happening, strangers I meet when I run my errands. The ones that know me well enough are either impressed I have lasted this long or are silently hoping I would come to my senses and color my hair again!! No cheering section yet.

I have to say it’s been easier than I thought, maybe because my hair grows fast and I had become a blonde a while ago….roots blend better, sort of. I also had a new haircut and keep it styled more than I used to. In the end, it’s been easier, I believe, because most of the time I don’t care what people think!! Do not get me wrong, even not caring about what they say, I have found myself doubting my decision a couple of times. Not enough to give up yet, but enough to consider wearing a hat when I went out! Why not? Love hats and they are fashionable, are they not? Seriously, the reward will be amazing, but the way there is paved with doubts and impatience, you need to keep convincing yourself. You need help!

One very good idea is to read about others that have embarked on this journey. So far, I have read everything I found about letting your hair go natural,  looking for encouragement and finding it. There are Facebook pages and older women sites that give tips and advise: Vibrant Nation, Zest Now and Sixty and Me.   There are also Going Grey – Google Search, I couldn’t believe the amount of information you can find! This is how I have discovered that many women have decided to do this, more than I would have ever imagined. Reasons go from being tired of coloring to the cost, the time and the aggravation. Maybe it’s that they do not need to prove anything to anyone, or the fact that so many celebrities are going grey. There are now examples of glamorous women flaunting their grey locks everywhere!!! Not a moment to soon, I say.

Now, there are women that simply cannot let their hair go grey; either their white hair turns yellow, it’s too coarse and dry or the color just doesn’t go with their complexion. What to do. You would need to try it before you are sure it’s not for you. There is also that you need to be  your best when you let your hair go grey. You might need to change your make-up, your hairstyle, your clothes style and your attitude. I know, too much work…..but it will be so worth it… I am sure!!!

I have about three and a half inches of growth already and  the Holidays are coming. Christmas is a special time in our home and five days before it’s our anniversary: 40 years!!! Something needed to be done. Enter my beautiful daughter. Camille has a most wonderful stylist….leave it to her to find the best in her new city: Europa Hair Studio. Yesterday, I went to see him and had a whole afternoon worth of work on my hair. Fernando, the stylist, did almost white highlights all over. I looked as if my head could receive signals from Mars! After that, he applied heat to make the hair-lightener work, a violet mask to take away as much of the blonde as possible and a toner to give the hair an even color. When I tell you my hair hurt, trust me, that’s an understatement. It was a long day….

In the end….. voilá, totally worth it! Thank you, Camille!!!!

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About Time: a Challenge

abouttimeMy husband and daughter accompanied me to watch About Time, a British movie written and directed by the very clever  Richard Curtis. He has given us other gems: Four Weddings and a Funeral, Notting Hill and Love Actually. This is another one. Do not want to spoil it for you, so all I am saying is that I came out with a brilliant idea for a challenge!! Can see your eyebrows raising and your mouth slightly open. What is she talking about? What is she up to now? Very simple: I am setting a challenge for myself, a challenge that will last  through the Holidays and into the New Year. It is about time I see every day as I would have like it to be from the beginning.

This movie opened my eyes to something so true, I should have seen it before. Life is made out of days, taken one at a time. Days, in turn, are made of moments and moments are what life is all about. Why? because it would be moments that we remember, good ones and not so good ones. Moments that would make our memories, especially as we grow older. So let’s pay attention, let’s put an effort into making our moments memorable. This is the only way to make your day just as it should have been…from the beginning.

Have you come to the end of the day and asked yourself: why did I do this or that? why didn’t I keep my mouth shut or why did I say those things? I know I have, more than once. It is not full regret all the time, it’s just a wish, a vague feeling that the day could have gone better! It happens to all of us, it’s life……

Life, the rhythm of life actually, is different for each one of us. It depends on our personalities, our goals, our work, our family. Some people seem to glide along with a smile on their faces. Others, and I count myself in this group, smile once in a while, but struggle along. What to do. I always thought that there was nothing to be done, after all it was a matter of personality, wasn’t it? All I had to do was move on and make the best of it, right? Absolutely not…..Fortunately, I went to see About Time!!!

Watching what must be the feel-good movie so far this year, my eyes opened and my mind decided. This is what I propose to do. Take every moment and  make it the best it can be. Think before I speak, harder than you think in my case, so I have to make sure to breathe at least twice before I open my mouth! Consider what the other person is going to feel if I say what I want to say, breathe again of course! Don’t rush into any reaction, breathe before you respond to anything, be it words or actions. For now, I think this is enough. I can’t overwhelm myself. I will, though, keep you posted on this.