It’s (barely) the most wonderful time of the year
Last year’s Christmas was certainly a monochromatic one in Venezuela; a very bleak holiday season that lacked much of the joy and cheerfulness that comes with it. In my personal case, the loss of my mother earlier that year meant that—well, let’s just say the festive spirit wasn’t there.
With another year comes another Christmas. Venezuela was shaken down all throughout 2019; while some things have changed, the truth is that nothing has ultimately improved in a real sense, be it politically, economically, or at a societal level. So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that this year will be an encore of the previous one, down to the regime claiming ‘peace’ once again as a victory banner—even the yearly bread and circus event known as Suena Caracas is about to begin.
A more openly and de-facto dollarization of the economy is the most glaring difference between this Christmas and the last one; this change has shifted some of the financial day to day dynamics without fixing the underlying consequences of the country’s collapse, such as hyperinflation, which is still as tangible as ever. Even though the Sovereign Bolivar axed five zeroes off our scale back in 2018 prices are averaging what they used to be back in December of 2017—surpassing and even doubling them in some areas.
All the woes and tribulation that come with living in this country notwithstanding, Christmas is a time for respite. People often avail themselves of the season to rest, catch a break, and get ready for another spin of the cycle; I can’t hold it against them, because I too seek some respite for myself this month. This year was brutal, most brutal indeed—not to mention that it wrapped what certainly was, the most complex decade in modern Venezuelan history.
With renewed spirit
Which takes us to the point of this post. The first of three that I have planned to wrap up and give closure to not just 2019, but the decade as a whole, as I prepare for the next decade.
I must confess that towards the end of November I started to feel rather down, another holiday season was upon us and the person that embodied and spearheaded the banners of the ‘season to be jolly’ is no longer with us.
Last year I tried to immerse and wrap myself around a festive and joyful Christmas mood but it proved to be rather difficult. I didn’t even setup our traditional Nativity scene, we haven’t had a Christmas tree in some time now so that was out of the question as well. Aside from a special (within budget constrains) homemade dinner, we essentially skipped Christmas last year.
With the fact that Venezuela’s 2019 Christmas is poised to be an encore of 2018’s I almost fell down in the same brooding pit, but enough is enough. After much consideration, I took the initial steps to restore the spirit of Christmas in our humble household, not just for myself, but for my brother as well.
It’s time to mend wounds and rebuild some normalcy in our lives through our religious traditions. There’s only two of us left now, but we’re still a family, and shall remain so. We based the layout on our Mother’s usual design and tried to replicate the last one we assembled together.
This is the first Nativity scene that my brother and I assemble on our own. It certainly lacks her touch but for the most part, it looks rather similar.
It might not seem like much to some, but it does to me, not only does it uphold our religious beliefs and one of the traditions that our mother imparted upon us, it is also a first step into restoring Christmas for the two of us after all we’ve been through over the past years.
I had completely forgotten that back in 2017, when we assembled the last one together, we had each wrote our respective wishes and placed them between the Virgin Mary and the Baby Jesus.
Cue my surprise when I took the set pieces out of their boxes and see that those three folded sheets of paper were still there after two years. I read hers and her words bought me to tears. I only wished for my mother to get better, and for Sword of the Nation to be a success so that I could build a future for the three of us.
My mother’s letter was the longest of the three, its very personal in nature, but one of her wishes said, “Don’t take me away from my sons until they find their path in life.”
That, along with the rest of the letter, bought me to tears on that afternoon. At the same time, her words helped me regain my north and my resolve. I won’t rest until I fulfill the promise that I made to her and continue taking care of my brother, getting us both out of this country, ensure that my brother gets to study and unleash all that potential that remains locked in his head, and make sure that he lives a better life.
Christmas, and the whole season, is often prone to excesses, a Nativity scene is one of those simpler things that lets you express your faith and devotion. With our country’s tight situation, our budget, and my lacking culinary ability in mind, I need to start figuring out what to do for Christmas—something simple, but wholesome, I suppose.
I better start scouting for recipes to cook cause I’m not exactly a master chef.
Hopefully, and even though it’ll always lack my mother’s personal touch, this Christmas tradition is something that I intent to maintain and uphold for the rest of my life.