A Holy Night

Nativity – Photo by M.A.D.

Christmas is just around the corner. My favorite time of the year. The reason for the season is the best part of it, the most sublime gift – Jesus Christ, King of kings. Most years, I try to write a poem for this blog during this time. I know 2020 has not been a kind year for anyone, but we should welcome the season in our hearts and be thankful that we are still around, and for many other blessings that whether we realize or not, have happened throughout this dreadful year.

A Holy Night

On a cold December night,

outside I stepped, to see the stars.

The moon shone bright,

the air was crisp.

My heart too sad to think of Him.

*

A tear I felt, and many more.

A cloud passed by

the moon it cloaked.

A heart too tired,

A heavy load.

*

Far in the sky, a light above.

A twinkling star,

Its light bestowed.

Far down below

my heart just stopped.

*

A voice I heard

deep in my heart.

“My child I am here.”

“Of you I think,

your heart I hear.”

*

The star I saw

Announced His love,

his gift bestowed.

Born is the King,

Jesus, pure love.

I will be back in January. I am very grateful for every reader and visitor of this blog, and I wish everyone a beautiful season and many blessings for 2021. Lets hang in there; this too shall pass.

A Taste of Childhood

If anything, this pandemic has made us more creative in other areas. For some, having time to kill (not trying to be insensitive here) has sparked creativity without limits. For me, it has made me reflect and ponder many areas of my life, and revisit many childhood memories. One of my favorites is when my grandmother used to set aside a day to make “frituras” (fritters), a type of Puerto Rican cuisine. It did not happen all the time, but when it did, we were filled with anticipation, taste anticipation that is, because these fritters were delicious. Having lived most of my life here, my exposure to these authentic fritters was limited. The closest in flavor was at a restaurant in Connecticut many decades ago. Over the weekend, I decided to try and recreate that feeling at least, because I wasn’t sure I would be able to recreate my grandmother’s fritters flavor just how she used to make them, heavenly and close to perfection. Of course, I would never beat my grandmother in the kitchen, but the sentiment was there and all I wanted to do was to capture the memories in a tangible and delicious form.

It took me three days to capture the feeling, and I don’t think I will be recapturing it anytime soon. These fritters take time to make, especially because everything is made from scratch. It also requires frying, and I don’t like to fry because it is a bit messy. I divided the task in three days, one kind of fritter per day. For my husband, who loves these, they were three days of pure bliss. It was a good feeling accompanied by the sweetest memories of my grandmother and childhood.

Day One

On day one, I started with the easiest kind to make – Rellenos de Papa, translated to Potato Balls filled with meat, usually ground beef, but you can fill these with any kind of meat, or chicken/turkey. I have to say that these came out pretty close in flavor and appearance. I am not going to include recipes on this blog post, but if anyone is interested in the recipe, you can leave a comment below and I will answer it. Here is what they looked like.

Rellenos de Papa (Potato Balls filled with ground beef)

Day Two

On the second day, I decided to make Pastelillos, roughly translated to a type of Beef Pattie. Again, you can use any type of meat or chicken/turkey filling, however the traditional way is to use ground beef with tiny pieces of potatoes mixed in as the filling. These took a bit longer to make because I made the round shells from scratch. If I want to be technical, these would be called Empanadillas, which is the same except that the color is white instead of yellow, and the shell is a bit thicker and dense. These came out delicious but nothing like my grandmother’s. Here is what they looked like.

A bit of the process. The key is the shell, which is round.
Pastelillos (Beef Patties).

Day Three

On the third day, I made Bacalaitos, translated to Codfish fritters. However, I have made these before because these are easy to make, and something that my grandmother made more often than the other two kinds for the same reason. I did not have codfish, so I used canned ham, just because I wanted to do these. If you get the seasonings right, you will not miss the codfish. These turned out very good and the seasoning was right. My grandmother used to serve these with bread, and so did I.

Bacalaitos (fritters)

And what does all this has to do with writing? Nothing and everything. Inspiration is fueled by letting your spirit delight in other things not related to writing. It is fueled by enjoyment, by taking the time to step out of the routine and clear your mind and heart. To pursue that which recharges the soul so later on you can recharge the pen, and to delight one’s mind in the pursue of happiness, which undeniably would make a better writer. On my second novel, Ramblings of the Spirit, one of the key characters (Olga Gartier) makes a very delicious meal (cornbread crab cakes and squash casserole), which Jeremy Sandbeck, an Anarth, loves and cannot have enough of it. Sometimes, food has its place in writing.

Diamonds in the Rain

Life is not always fair. Sometimes, we are presented with heavy blows and challenges so difficult or unfair that we may think we don’t have any strength left to deal with life. I know; I have been there myself a few times. It is on those tempestuous days when it is easier to go with the flow, walk with a clouded mind, because even thinking hurts (and forget about feeling, you can even go there), that we think less of ourselves. It is as we are punishing ourselves for life’s dealings and for not being the perfect hero we should be. We are fed a heroic image since our childhood, and when we cannot be even a third of that image, we think that we might be the biggest failures on the planet. Well, if anything, we are human, very human, and being human is not an excuse for stopping and letting people and situations use us as a punching bag, neither an excuse to be less. We must pause, yes, but to recharge, to ponder, to regain perspective, and to continue the journey, fair or unfair as it might seem. There is an adage that goes “Pick up the pieces and keep going,” or something along those lines. The “keep going” part is not the difficult part. The hard part is to “pick up the pieces.” When your life has been shattered in billion pieces, at one point, when you are bending as much and as long as you can to pick up those pieces, and each piece reflects back a part of you, you start counting them, and the task seems unsurmountable. That is why it might be easier to go at it one piece at a time, one step at a time, one day at a time, without counting, recounting, or even regretting what has already been recounted more than once. Life can present us with light showers, heavy storms, and even hurricanes, at any time. It is call living. So we are not the heroes we though we grew up to be? Then we must change suits, and suit up for the occasion, as best as we can under the circumstances. We cannot do it alone? Who said we had to do it alone? God is there at all times, whether we choose to see it or not, and Jesus is just waiting for us to call on him. We don’t have to go it alone if we don’t want to. We tend to be hard on ourselves, and less forgiving. We place so much pressure on ourselves, sometimes more than God puts on us. After all, He wants us to love Him, love one another, and welcome His son Jesus into our lives. That sounds less demanding to me than being Mr./Mrs. Perfect – Know it all – Super Performer Hero/Heroine that bleeds success when poked, and is unstoppable. Aspiring is beautiful, achieving is lovely and rewarding in its own way as well, but it is not the only important thing. Our soul is, and it is very easy to lose track of it in the storms of life.

We are all humans and life is not always fair; however, we can start seeing the diamonds in the rain, one by one. God put them there for a reason.

Diamonds in the rain. Photo by M.A.D.