Monday, December 12, 2011
Christmas, the season to be jolly, chilly nights, filled with traditional Christmas food like “pasteles”, pork, ham, and many other traditional foods. Obviously, our story doesn’t take place in any snow filled region of earth.
It is 6:00 PM, a chilly Saturday night. Marcos sips a glass of pitorro, or Puerto Rican moonshine, and sits on a chair, alone in front of his Christmas tree. The lights have just recently turned on, sparkling in different colors. On his hands he holds the picture of a young girl; he looks at it with pain within his eyes. On the background, the radio plays “parrandas” or native carols on the CD player.
-“Ay mija…”- sighs Marcos.
Unto the room walks Maria, a beautiful young college student with long dark brown straight hair. Her eyes light up when she sees Marcos.
-“Dad! Have you finished getting ready to go to uncle Gerardo’s house? It’s Christmas eve!”- says Maria.
-“It’s been a year since…”- says Marcos with a broken voice.
Maria walks up to her dad, places her hands around his chest and kisses him on his cheek.
-“I miss her too dad, but… it’s Christmas! Uncle Gerardo is expecting us to be there!”
-“Yes Maria… you should go… I’m in no mood”- said Marcos as he got up and left the room.
Maria sighed, nodded her head sideways just slightly, and looked at the tree. “Can’t believe it’s been a year already…”
She could still remember the night, the previous Christmas Eve. The family had all gotten together; Sara, her younger sister, had accompanied them to the traditional family gathering. Maria smiled as she remembered her cute white dress; after all, she had helped Sara pick it. Maria was like Sara’s mother; she had died giving birth to her youngest and since then, Maria had helped her father raise her.
As she remembered watching Sara collapse, her white dress pouring with red rivers flowing from her head, Maria cried. A lost bullet had fallen on top of the unsuspecting Sara, taking her young life.
Marcos, wearing a white “guayabera”, a long sleeve, and two pockets shirt used by older generations and popularized by the jibaros, or country folk, entered the room. Upon seeing Maria cry, he rushed to hug and cheer her up.
-“Ay mija, don’t cry! I’ am going with you to Gerardo’s.”-
-“I’m not crying because of your rudeness dad…”- said Maria as she wiped the tears of her eyes, -“You think you’re the only one hurting over Sara’s death.”-
Marcos remained silent.
-“I was there when the doctor declared her dead, or do you forget?”-
-“I know Maria… I’m sorry if I made you feel bad before”- said Marcos with a concerned tone.
-“I miss them so much Dad”- said Maria as she rushed to her father’s embrace and begun to cry again.
-“I miss them too hon…”-
In Puerto Rico, dozens of innocent lives were taken every Christmas due to shots being fired unto the air, mostly on New Year’s Eve. Thanks to community leaders, and State government funded, campaigns have been done since the mid 2000’s. Christmas is a time to spend with the family, and many of the victims have been innocent children.
Whether you live in Puerto Rico or not, please, avoid celebrating by shooting bullets into the air. You never know who can be affected. Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year.