Close this search box.

Things I Really Miss About X-Mas

One of the things I really miss about Christmas 25 years ago, first and foremost is the preparation and enjoying of the ham. Today, we eat ham at many other special occasions, so much that when you eat it for Christmas it is no longer special. The salted hams used to arrive at the stores around December 15, and dad would proudly bring one from the store. He hung the ham in the kitchen at a very visible spot so that all the neighbors could know that there was a ham in the house waiting to be boiled, baked and devoured. On December 23, it would be scraped, boiled for two hours and then baked and placed on a large platter like a time clock waiting for December 25. No one dared put a knife on that ham before Christmas Day. I remember liking to eat the pork skin, and when mom was not around, I would carefully sneak a little piece of the skin that was at the bottom of the pork leg.

On December 25, we had a portion of ham for breakfast, another piece in a sandwich for lunch and some more in the evening with fried jacks and refried beans for supper. Yes, dad would have a lot sandwiches made for his friends who came to visit. Mom usually placed a lot of ham sandwiches on the table for special visitors. Sometimes those sandwiches disappeared, and one wondered who took them. Ham would be the order of the day for several days, and when it was done you knew it was “adios” to it until the next year. The bone with all the little remnants was cooked in the next pot of beans and it really enriched that pot. And that was the end of the ham.

What was said of the ham was also true of apples, pears and grapes. Those fruits were only available at Christmas time. Today, they are available year round so that they are no longer the “Christmas fruits” as we used to call them. Another thing I really miss about Christmas 25 years ago is that little branch of a pine tree, which we traditionally call a Christmas tree in San Pedro. The little branch was placed in a bucket of sand, which was the stand and decorated with toys, balloons, and a few ornaments. The nativity scene including statues of Saint Joseph, Mary, Baby Jesus, an Angel, and some animals were placed under the tree. What was special was that the house smelled of green throughout the season until the branch died, but that was after Christmas. The balloons got smaller and smaller, reminding us that the season was over. Today we see a lot of wrapped gifts placed under the tree, a reminder that we are more interested in the material benefits of Christmas than the spiritual aspects. Therefore people do not wait for Christmas to go to Church but rather to open the many gifts received from relatives and friends.

Another thing I really miss about Christmas is the spirit of visiting friends at their homes and really jollying it up. I mean a real Christmas party. We used to gather at a friend’s house and party with drinks, food, singing and dancing for about an hour or two. There was accordion and guitar music and everyone became a musician, a singer or better yet a dancer. We had a treat of the hostess’ ham, turkey and yes, the black fruitcake. From there we moved to another friend’s house and so the day went on and on until everyone was visited. By nine at night, it was time to visit one’s own house and bed. Today we no longer visit family and friends as much. Because we are spoiled with technology, we simply pick up the phone and wish someone a Merry Christmas. Pretty soon we will want to send a piece of fruitcake by fax.

Talk about fruitcake, when was the last time you had a really nice chunk of it? One week before Christmas, every mom in San Pedro was preparing the black fruitcake. It was filled up with prunes and almonds and pecans and the mixed fruits which was sold by the pound only at Christmas time. Then mom would wet the cake with white rum so that it would last long after Christmas. This rum really added flavor to the fruitcake. This cake could last way after Christmas, but do you think it did? No, it was devoured by all the friends who visited the house because this cake was a sign that it was Christmas. Wanna know other things we Sanpedranos miss about Christmas 25 years ago? Read on next week, same time, same page but let me start saying to all my friends and folks “Merry Christmas, see you at church and hope your year was a good one.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *