I wrote a poem when I was twenty years old, but really the truth of this poem was born in a fourth-grade classroom. I will present to you my original poem titled “regalo” or “Gift” in English. This poem is quite special to me and is possibly my favorite. I am very pleased that it has been picked up and published as I may now share it as I see fit.
I grew up in my grandfather’s home
Under his roof every holiday was a parade of pan dulce,
And thanksgiving dinner, camping trips, smiling faces,
Poker chips, Nintendo 64 & hide and go seek.
But grandfather passed away when I was 7 years old,
And for many years my family was left trying to pick up the pieces-
In those days Christmas Eve tamales felt much lonelier.
But what I found was something beautiful,
That grandfather’s legacy lives on
Through the roots of this family tree,
That every tia y tio
Now turned abuela y abuelo, as years passed has their own traditions,
Their own Christmas Eve tamales
That we still comeback to grandfathers home on Christmas day,
Sharing hard earned tamales & old war stories of the man.
And this; a parting gift made metaphor for life, and death,
Of an ending giving rise to new beginnings,
This may have been the single greatest lesson he left me with.
The central crux of this poem is my own telling of Christmas, family, and death. I discuss a collection of experiences that I witnessed/ took part in that have come to represent a universal truth about life in my eyes.
I grew up in my grandfather’s home, in this home every holiday was an elaborate and beautiful occasion. Holidays were like family reunions, the warmth of compassion and laughter lighting our home. Christmas Eve tamale making was the greatest of all our holidays. I can tell you the reader that I was only in third grade but I was there, and I remember when cancer took my grandfather away from us. It was not slow, it was not painless and it was not in the middle of the night. My grandfather passed away due to stomach cancer which progressed steadily. My grandfather was everything in my family, he was the sun and all its stars, he was our end and the beginning. I felt his death but even more so I felt his life, the great empty space it left behind. Maybe it did feel like our world had ended, but the sun did rise again and with it, life continued.
When my grandfather passed away the family went our own ways as well. The holidays were no longer these huge elaborate family affairs. They say the holidays are the worst when you lose a loved one. From a young age, I realized that things were never going to be the same as they were before. With the years I learned that just because our family parties- these Christmas eve tamales were never going to be exactly like when I was very young, that was not the end of the world. I witnessed the next generation of tradition. My aunts and uncles began having their own Christmas Eve tamales at their own homes with their own grandchildren. I learned, even if I did not realize it yet at the time, that something beautiful could be born from something tragic. I learned that an end can just as well signal new beginnings.
I learned that death is not the end, but the beginning. I learned that family ebbs and flows like an ocean. I learned that our tradition, this family spirit, grandfather’s laugh, and smile lives on. Spirit can not truly be destroyed, just transformed. I do not cry because he died, I cry because I know that he is no longer in pain. I sing his song to celebrate his life because of everything he was and continues to be, caught in beet breaks and the smiles of my newborn cousins & mother alike.
If you care to visit Edify Fiction I will post the link below (Pg 43) http://www.edifyfiction.com/uploads/4/4/2/9/44290661/ef_christmas2019pdf.pdf
If you would like to visit my other publications you can head over to The Acentos Review at http://www.acentosreview.com/November2018/christian-rivera-nolan.html
Thanks for reading, and stay safe.