The day after Christmas

26 Dec

is such a lazy day for me now. When we lived in the US I had to work, and Christmas Day was more like a pause in a frantic race that never stopped. I am so glad that is over now.

 In my family we always gather on Christmas Eve to await the stroke of midnight, when we all embrace and give each other the gifts we have in store. In Latin America there isn’t really a native tradition of Santa Claus. It is an imported notion (and what isn’t these days?). As a child I always knew where my gifts came from.

Christmas was a quiet celebration for us here in Lahore. I stayed at home and cooked. My husband’s sister-in-law came with her daughter and we had dinner. Barbecued chicken (cooked on the grill we had shipped from America), buttered potatoes, baked pasta, steamed french beans, salad with olives and crusty french bread. I also made an artichoke spread for starters. My brother-in-law had brought some quails from the village the other day, and my husband grilled those too. I didn’t try them, but they all seemed to like them very much. They looked too much like the live bird to me. They were tiny, and I just couldn’t eat them.

We took a drive around noon, because a cousin of my husband’s told us there were some pretty Christmas trees somewhere near a church, but as much as we looked we didn’t find them. We did see several churches, with lots of people outside. There were armed security guards too. I saw some banners on the Mall Road that said “Congratulations to our Christian brothers and sisters”. I think they were put up by the City of Lahore. They did the same when the Chinese president came here a few weeks ago, on the announcement of the trade deal between China and Pakistan.

I think, from what I have heard, that there are roughly eight million Christians in Pakistan. These are not foreigners, but native Pakistanis. I saw lots of people on the street, wearing what were obviously new clothes (lots of sequins and jewelry for the ladies). It made me feel a little nostalgic for the Christmases of my childhood, when I would compare estrenos (new clothes) with my cousins. When I finished cooking I put on a new dress. I had my favorite dress copied by a local tailor. He did a good job, and he only charged a little more than a dollar.

So even now, so many years later, and in such a different place, I still had my estreno de NavidadTake that, Katia!

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