Mom and I were invited over to my friends Javi and Carla’s house for a friends and family Christmas Eve. Christmas day in Uruguay is not a very big deal. Most of the big presents are given to the children on the three kings day (Jan 6). In addition, the magic of Christmas comes at the stroke of midnight. But more on that later.
Mom and I made some yummy desserts for the evening and headed out along the Rambla around 7 to make our way past Montevideo proper toward Solymar. Now, Javi and Carla’s house is my favorite in Uruguay. Not only is it my dream house filled with exposed wood and ladders and a huge outdoor area and a pool, but it is filled with incredible love and acceptance. There is absolutely no pretension. Guest are encouraged to take their shoes off and dance. There are myriad unique seating options including a hammock, a trampoline, and outdoor lounge sofas. There is even a fruit tree. And it is right by the beach. The whole place shouts “make yourself at home.” Which is exactly what we did.
Then there are the lovely people in the house. Javi and Carla are just amazing. They are both ridiculously smart and funny and kind and playful. They love games as much as or maybe even more than I do. And they passed these qualities to their two amazing kids. Cata, is the girl of my heart. Not only does she love books (especially Harry Potter), but she is a clever intrinsic learner who just makes me immensely happy. She made me the sweetest gift for Christmas to help with my healing. My heart! And Juan is this amazing young man who has so much patience and tenderness. I watched him lying on the sofa just laughing with his mom and looking up at the lights around the backyard. Then he helped his little cousin light sparkler after sparkler, teaching her how to hold it correctly. The whole family warms my heart and soul. And being around them all does nothing but heal me.
First, there was conversation, then a night stroll to the beach. Javi, Seba, and Rasheeda had a nice night swim while Diego and I stayed back and admired the night air and the evening sky.
As soon as we returned, meat started cooking on the parilla and Javi’s family started showing up. His sisters, his mother, and niece – the backyard was filled with laughter and greetings. In Uruguay, the last to come in makes rounds of kisses. Mom got to experience her first Uruguayan party with kiss after kiss from new friends. We met new people, heard new stories, and enjoyed our time with old friends. The food was delicious! Meats were passed and shared. New dishes were tried. By the end we were full and content.
Then comes the magic. At exactly midnight, the sky alights with fireworks. There are no rules and regulations in Uruguay, so the average person goes out and buys copious fireworks and sets them off at midnight to light up the new Christmas sky. At this time children go out into the street to watch and THAT is when Santa comes. So kids open presents after the firework display on Christmas. Mom and I stared up at the sky with the wonderment of children as fireworks boomed all around us. I can’t wait for her to see the display on New Years from Tavis’ terrace.
At Javi and Carla’s, the time after fireworks is a time for singing and dancing. Javi’s sisters, Carla, Cata, and the cousins all sang along to karaoke songs off youtube. So of course, I just had to join in, despite the fact I was trying my best to read the Spanish lyrics as fast as I could. Then Tavis joined in with the Uruguayan national anthem and the YMCA. Both songs we knew very well. Our dessert was eaten. Mom and I simply could not wait to try the fudge and apple cobbler so had ours with dinner. It was our first sugar in a month. The evening was quickly drawing to day. Mom and I caught an Uber with Seba and Rasheeda. An hour later we were home and ready for bed. It had been one of my favorite Christmas Eve’s of all time. And I am tremendously happy I got to share it was just incredible people and my mom.