Intro to Watsonopolis

There was one who once said crazy things like, give your possessions to the poor, let your light shine, go to the ends of the earth, love God, love your neighbor, serve, pray, die and live. Those words, the words of Jesus, have gripped and shaped our lives.

Because of Jesus’ life, challenge and love we are propelled into an amazing life journey; a journey that most often finds us pitching our tent among the poor and those on the margins of our world, serving, living, teaching, learning and loving there.

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Wednesday
Dec282011

Miami Christmas: When Christmas = A New World

For the past week the Watsons 5 have been in Miami celebrating Christmas.  Miami is a remarkable city with a fascinating culture; the Hollywood of Latin America and a poignant collage of all things Latin America.  The climate and the culture make it an interesting place to celebrate Christmas.  It really is a different world here.

It's 80 degrees.  I'm wearing shorts and sunglasses.  We're swimming in the ocean.  I'm running the A/C in the car.  I sweat.  The Santa Clause on Miracle Mile has a Cuban accent.  It could be disorienting if it weren't so stinking amazing.  

Every morning I walked to the corner Cafecita with the boys and ordered pastelitos and cafe con leche.  I had to use my best Spanish which at best is humorous and at worst insulting.  The first day I think I introduced by sons & nephews as my uncles and ordered 8 birthday cakes.  But the workers were patient and the regulars were amused by the bald American with 4 children in tow.  

Somewhere in the midst of all the Christmas festivities, and family visits I remembered a more recent Christmas story.  One that intersects the older one, the first one.  

Lisa's family is from Cuba.  Her Papi and Abuela (grandpa & grandma) immigrated here just a year or so after Castro came in to power.  It was, like that of many families, a difficult journey, scary to say the least.  Yet one filled with hope and possibility.  

On Christmas eve, 1961, Lisa's Papi got papers and a plane ticket freeing him and his family to leave for America.  But they had to leave the next day.  Because Papi was a pastor, and pastors were not well regarded by the new regime, he was a wanted man.  So, that night, he packed up his family and on Christmas morning, Papi & Abuela, along with Lisa's dad and two uncles, and all their possesions in a couple of suitcases, boarded a plane that would carry them to a new world and a new life.  

It is exactly 50 years later.  It's Christmas eve and I'm in Uncle Danny's back yard.  I'm surrounded by the Rodriguez family.  A whole pig is being roasted Cuban style.  The smells and sounds are soothing, softening.  It's Noche Buena, the traditional Cuban Christmas eve meal.  All is calm.  All is bright. 

We're sitting in lawn chairs.  Papi, never one to miss an opportunity to tell a story, shares the story of their exile once again.  About how the fled and the circumstances surrounding it.  He tells me it was Christmas.  He tells me he was 37 years old.  "Hey, I'm 37 Papi!" I say.  And we look at one another and smile and nod our heads in recognition of the deep similarity of a long ago Christmas eve that gave birth to Christmas day and the world was changed; and how that story was played out again on Dec. 25th, 1961 when eve gave way to day and Christmas day gave way to a new world when the plane landed in Miami.  And even still as Christmas eves on the horizon will continue to give birth to new life and new worlds as Elias crawls into my lap and asks for a piece of lechon.  

2000 years ago a brave young Jewish man & woman, tossed on the waves of political cirucumstances beyond their control were forced to give birth in a barn.  And the world was changed.  

Years later, beacuase of the bravery of a Cuban pastor, and geopolitical cirucumstances beyond either of our control my life has been dramatically blessed and forever changed.

And Elias knows the word for pork - lechon.

Reader Comments (2)

Great family stories & traditions...enjoyed reading. Thanks for sharing!

December 28, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterBrad Dunlap

thanks Brad! glad you enjoyed it my friend.

January 3, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterwatson

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