I always celebrated Christmas Eve, even back when it was frowned upon, and though my family was very “integrated” in those years, we celebrated (and still continue to celebrate) my mom’s birthday. In my family it was a secular meeting, but very important. Dressed in our very best, we sat at the table with a roast chicken if there was no pork, we never lacked black beans to which my mom gave the finishing touch with an oil in which she had soaked a peeled sweet orange for a few weeks. I don’t know how the orange managed to make that vulgar oil have a taste reminiscent of olive oil; I don’t know how my mother managed to make such divine food in spite of her frustration in gathering ingredients. That was on the 24th. The 25th was the best day of my childhood. While my maternal grandmother was alive, we celebrated the “Party of the Tree,” we gathered at the home of an uncle of mine with all of my grandmother’s children and their families, we had lunch and then shared the gifts piled under the Christmas tree, it was a family tradition that started before 1959, but I remember the sixties, when shortages took hold, my mom and my aunts managed to laugh at the difficulties. I’m talking about almost thirty people (two of my uncles and their families immigrated to the United States between 1960 and 1961, so there used to be more of us), and each one us left with five presents, the children appreciated it more if they were toys. When my grandmother died, all of this ended.