A Very Cuban Christmas

Merry Christmas! Every year my family hosts a Christmas Eve Party for some of our oldest family friends. We started the party because we didn’t have any family in Texas and now some of the folks have been coming for over 10 years. Its the family tradition nearest and dearest to my heart and I look forward to it every year. In keeping with my mom’s roots, we make several Cuban dishes each year including, arroz con frijoles negros, platanos, yuca, and flan. My mom makes the best flan in the world. The recipe has been passed down through the years and apparently my great-grandfather worked for Kraft Corporation and swears that they stole my great-grandmother’s recipe for their instant flan. What a scandal. The party has been a part of my life for so long that I don’t remember Christmas without it. It has been amazing getting to share Christmas with these lovely people every year and watch everyone grow. It just wouldn’t be Christmas without all of these lovely things.

Lovely friends

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Lovely family

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Lovely food

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Besides the same group of smiling faces and my mom’s amazing Cuban food, the other staple of the Smogard Family Christmas Party is that each year my dad dresses up as Santa. This year, however, he decided that he wasn’t going to do it because there weren’t any young children at the party that still believed in Santa. Lexis and I decided this was not a good enough reason to abandon the Santa tradition, so…

I did it.

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Santa shrunk by about a foot, but brought the same amount of Christmas spirit. Normally only the kids get presents, but Lexis and I bought mini wine and champagne bottles and little chocolate coals for the adults.

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This will probably come back to haunt me at some point, but it was a blast and I definitely caught everyone by surprise.

Normally I only help set up by decorating and cleaning, but this year I wanted to make something on my own. I wanted either a festive appetizer or dessert that wasn’t too complicated and ended up settling on this:

Crescent wrapped baked-brie with raspberries

  • 1 8 ounce Brie circle
  • 1 tbsp raspberry preserves
  • 1 cup raspberries
  • Crescent rolls

To prepare:

  1. Make a square out of 2 crescent triangles, making sure to press the perforated edges together.
  2. Place cheese in center of square.
  3. Top with preserves and raspberries.
  4. Make another square and put it on top, making whatever kind of design you want on top.
  5. Brush the top and sides with egg yoke.
  6. Spray a baking sheet with some cooking spray, put on the cheese, and bake it for 20-30 minutes at 350.

Easy and delicious. It was a big hit.

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Per usual I was the first one up on Christmas morning, so I hung out by the tree and ate breakfast and watched a movie while waiting for everyone else to wake up. Around 10:30 everyone rolled in and we spent the next few hours talking, eating breakfast, and opening presents. Then around 12:30 we noticed little white things falling from the sky. A white Christmas in Texas! Don’t we look excited?

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My mom made us stand out there until she got a picture she was happy with. It actually snowed really hard, which made it even nicer to sit inside all day watching movies by the fire. Every year my dad reads an excerpt from Amazing Peace: A Christmas Poem by Maya Angelou. I think it sums up the spirit of the holiday perfectly.

Into this climate of fear and apprehension, Christmas enters,
Streaming lights of joy, ringing bells of hope
And singing carols of forgiveness high up in the bright air.
The world is encouraged to come away from rancor,
Come the way of friendship.

It is the Glad Season.
Thunder ebbs to silence and lightning sleeps quietly in the corner.
Flood waters recede into memory.
Snow becomes a yielding cushion to aid us
As we make our way to higher ground.

Hope is born again in the faces of children
It rides on the shoulders of our aged as they walk into their sunsets.
Hope spreads around the earth. Brightening all things,
Even hate which crouches breeding in dark corridors.

In our joy, we think we hear a whisper.
At first it is too soft. Then only half heard.
We listen carefully as it gathers strength.
We hear a sweetness.
The word is Peace.
It is loud now. It is louder.
Louder than the explosion of bombs.

We tremble at the sound. We are thrilled by its presence.
It is what we have hungered for.
Not just the absence of war. But, true Peace.
A harmony of spirit, a comfort of courtesies.
Security for our beloveds and their beloveds.

We clap hands and welcome the Peace of Christmas.
We beckon this good season to wait a while with us.
We, Baptist and Buddhist, Methodist and Muslim, say come.
Peace.

Come and fill us and our world with your majesty.
We, the Jew and the Jainist, the Catholic and the Confucian,
implore you to stay awhile with us
so we may learn by your shimmering light
how to look beyond complexion and see community.

It is Christmas time, a halting of hate time.
On this platform of peace, we can create a language
to translate ourselves to ourselves and to each other.
At this Holy Instant, we celebrate the Birth of Jesus Christ

Into the great religions of the world.
We jubilate the precious advent of trust.
We shout with glorious tongues the coming of hope.
All the earth’s tribes loosen their voices to celebrate the promise of
Peace.

We, Angels and Mortals, Believers and Nonbelievers,
Look heavenward and speak the word aloud.
Peace.

We look at our world and speak the word aloud.
Peace.

We look at each other, then into ourselves,
And we say without shyness or apology or hesitation:

Peace, My Brother.
Peace, My Sister.
Peace, My Soul.”

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Comments:

  1. remz i am DYING looking at those pictures of you as santa. sooo funny and such a cute idea! esp the coals. i expecting you to do this for our 40 haus xmas! <3 see you soon! and i still can't believe you can cook now! it looks delicious!

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