A Latina Grinch

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FA LA LA LA LA, LA LA LA LA

Those are usually the words that come out of my mouth when I am feeling cranky during the holidays.  Except that I say them with a heavy Spanish accent and using a very low and monotone voice.

In reality, I have nothing serious to be complaining about.  I have no business whining or being bratty.  But let’s be real here, it gets exhausting faking jolliness all month-long.

FA LA LA LA LA, LA LA LA LA

I am suffering from a severe case of the, “I don’t wanna’s”.  Have you ever suffered from this?  It can be very serious and highly contagious.

This Puerto Rican Grinch is at the peak of her illness and needs medical attention (or a good slapping) ASAP.

Here are examples of how this ailment is manifesting itself: 

1. There are rotten bananas liquefying on the kitchen counter and a decision needs to be made.  Banana bread would be the logical solution.  My response:   I don’t wanna, no quiero, I don’t wanna.

2.  After laboring over placing a fake garland with lights attached to it on the mantlepiece and ensuring that the lights worked prior to using it, the lights don’t work.   New lights would be the logical solution.  My response:  Sh#%&*@^!!!!  I don’t wanna, no quiero, I don’t wanna!

FA LA LA LA LA, LA LA LA LA

3. My in-laws need my husband and I to stay at their house overnight to help out while my mother-in-law goes to a Christmas show two hours away.  The logical and usual response is to do this lovingly and with no hesitation.  My response:  I don’t wanna, no quiero, I don’t wanna!

4. My Puerto Rican mustache is in dire need of waxing.  We are talking Señor Brick House!  The logical solution:  wax the hell out of it.  My response:  I don’t wanna, no quiero, I don’t wanna!

FA LA LA LA LA, LA LA LA LA

5. I have mad amounts of Christmas shopping to do.  I even know what to get my loved ones.  Some gifts take two seconds  and a simple click of the submit button.  The logical solution: buy the frikin’ gifts already!  My response: I don’t wanna, no quiero, I don’t wanna!

6.  By this time, I have usually indulged in Puerto Rican no-good-for-you fried goodies and have listened to festive (and loud) Puerto Rican Christmas music to get me in the mood.  Logical solution: go to freezer, defrost said no-good-for-you fried goodies, fry those suckers, eat them, press play on your Christmas play list, grab your maracas and güiro and dance the merengue ’till you pull a muscle.  My response: I don’t wanna, no quiero, I don’t wanna!

FA LA LA LA LA, LA LA LA LA

PLEASE SEND WELL-WISHES FOR A SPEEDY RECOVERY!

FELIZ NAVIDAD TO YOU AND YOURS!

 

One More Day

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I am convinced that I have gained more strength and wisdom in the past two days than I have throughout my entire life.

I can only describe it as a sort of awakening and clarity that has jolted my senses and filled my heart with hope, love and understanding.  I can feel my soul rise above me and watch me take it all in, in amazement.

The beauty of it all is so vividly apparent and pressed right up against my face.  Like a flashing billboard on a moonless night, it is luring me in all the while wondering what took me so long to grasp its invaluable simplicity.  

So very simple.

As I wallowed in my insignificant thoughts of the day, I remembered a commitment I had made to the woman who cleans my house.  She has worked with me for years and in spite of her less than ideal past, has transformed herself into a caring religious adult.

As a result of her illegal and reckless behavior as a young woman, she was diagnosed with the HIV virus twenty years ago.  She is fortunate to have access to top medical care and is optimistic about her future.

In honor of World Aids Day today, her church was hosting her and celebrating her successful battle with the disease and her spiritual transformation.  She would be speaking at this event and thus invited people in her life to join in on the celebration.

I did not want to go.  Although I respect her and her accomplishments, it was cold and rainy out and the last thing I wanted to do was to go to a ‘strange’ church filled with people I didn’t know and sit through the two-hour program.   I went as far as texting her to ask her when specifically she would be speaking so that I could skip the rest of the event.

Then, I resigned myself to the idea that I would be going and  stopped to pick up a bouquet of flowers for her.  I drove myself to an unfamiliar location in the cold rain and sat in the last pew at the church.  I figured it would be an easy escape once her speech was over.

The ceremony began with a beautiful song sung by the choir.  A song titled, One More Day.  I settled in my seat opening my mind to what lay ahead.  I listened to the beautiful words and music.  I felt my shoulders relax and my breathing slow down to a resting breath.  

Verse one:   

I woke up, early this morning
And I saw, a brand new dawning , When I got up, I opened my eyes, I said Lord I thank you for keeping me alive.

Unlike the solemn mood of the songs at the church I occasionally attend, I was enjoying this inspiring and upbeat gospel piece.  

Chorus Lead: Thank you Lord,
Choir: One more day
Lead: For one more day
Choir: One more day
Lead: Lord you been good to me
Choir: One more day
Lead: For just one more day
Choir: One more day

After numerous speakers told their stories of lost loved ones, talked about the stigma that still exists for AIDS patients and the lack of worldwide rhetoric about a disease that killed 1.2 million people in 2014 alone, it was my friend’s turn to speak.

To say that I couldn’t wipe the tears off my face fast enough is an understatement.  She told of her many struggles, of the costly mistakes she made, of the number of people she used and lied to and of her terrifying diagnosis and death sentence she received 20 years ago.

She expressed her gratitude to her loved ones, her church and all the people in her life who chose not to judge her.  Who chose to accept her in spite of her past and who made her feel that she mattered.  Once she saw that others loved her, she stopped thinking of herself as unworthy and began to love herself.  

She repeated the words, one more day and expressed her gratitude for having the gift of life.

Verse 2:
Lord you kept me, from all hurt and harm
Lord you kept me safe in the cradle of your arms
Lord I want you to know, I won’t complain
Everytime I think of your goodness, I gotta praise your name
opportunity to live one more day

I saw hope.  I saw hard work.  I saw love.  I saw gratitude.  I saw forgiveness.  I saw the value and the blessing of, one more day.

How self-absorbed and petty I was to try to get out of attending this event. How presumptuous of me to assume that I was doing this person a favor by going, when it was obvious that I received much more than I gave.

A situation yesterday where I met with my niece who has chosen to live a more wholesome life after a tumultuous past,  combined with having experienced this beautiful service today has enlightened me so significantly.  It has given my hardened and at times cynical soul a reason to believe again.  

To believe that people can change.  To believe that love can overcome almost anything.  To believe that there is always hope.  To believe that with hard work and devotion, happiness and peace are possible.  To believe, that even when putting all religion aside, gratitude for who we are, what we have and for every new day we live, is imperative to achieving a fulfilling life.

One More Day.

So very simple.