The Three Wise Men ('Los Reyes Magos') and other Feliz Navidad thoughts

Silvio Canto, Jr.

Let me wish all of the staff & readers of American Thinker a very "Feliz Navidad."      

For many years, I did "father's duty" and put out the gifts after our boys had fallen asleep on Christmas Eve. They generally stayed up until the local station reported that Santa had crossed the border into Texas.

I would stay awake watching 'It's a Wonderful Life" or listening to the radio. My favorite was Radio Exterior, a Spanish short wave broadcast from Madrid that was already into Christmas Day programming because they were 7 hours ahead.

As we were opening gifts the next morning, and trying out the new baseball glove or Troy Aikman football, I would answer my sons' curiosity about my Christmas Day experiences.  I would enjoy relating about my days in Cuba and how we got our gifts on January 6th rather than December 25th morning.

Pre-communist Cuba was one of the best places in the world to celebrate "Navidad" or Christmas. The holiday was eventually outlawed by the communist regime but families still celebrated it in private and behind closed doors.

Navidad in Cuba started around mid-December when the businesses scheduled their holiday parties and the schools closed. The towns were all dressed up for the holidays. Small and large communities were totally in the holiday mood. Merchants were appreciative of your business and loyalty.

My dad was a young banker and his clients would usually send us "turron" to eat, a delicious treat from old Spain.

Once in a while, one of my dad's clients would send a "pig" ready to be roasted. It was huge and always caught the attention of yours truly, a very curious kid back then!

We had the roasted pig on "Noche Buena" or the evening of December 24th.  We had it with white rice, black beans, "yuca," avocado and my mom would always add her version of "flan," a favorite dessert.

After the meal, the family, and often lots of friends and relatives, would move to the living room.

My mom would bring my dad a little Cuban coffee and then he would light up a big cigar.

By 10 PM, all of the men were fed, smoking cigars and talking baseball.  They were talking Minoso, Pascual and about those winter league teams. They also talked politics, especially as communism began strangling Cuba. 

We ate too much and then it was off to church for the midnight mass. We walked to the parish, a good idea since we had very full stomachs and needed the exercise. (It was really at midnight back then)

On December 25th, we woke up late from the activities of the night before. As always, my mom made coffee for my dad and he was smoking another cigar.

My father's uncle (Tio Joaquin) and aunt (Tia Clara) would always have us come over to pick up Santa's gifts. My aunt had lived in the US and celebrated Santa Claus.

We were always happy to get gifts but did not understand how Santa Claus found time to visit Cuba after so much work in the US.

After December 25th, we got into "gifts or kid mode."  They were the happiest 10 days of the year for Cuban kids.

We had all written letters to the "Los Reyes Magos" (Three Wise Men).  Every kid has his favorite.  My dad picked up our letters and promised to mail them. My mom took us to the park to take a picture with the wise men and their plastic camels.

One merchant had real camels and they were huge.

On January 6th, we woke up early and ran to a small Christmas tree. It was full of gifts left by 'Los Reyes Magos."

We noticed that the camels had eaten the grass and the Wise Men had enjoyed their coffee.  We then would hear my grandmother talk about the wise men and how pleasant they were.

It was a wonderful memory. I have nothing against Santa Claus but memories of those "Reyes Magos" leaving us gifts are priceless.

I think about it every time that Christmas comes around.

FELIZ NAVIDAD!

P. S. You can hear CANTO TALK here & follow me on Twitter @ scantojr.


Let me wish all of the staff & readers of American Thinker a very "Feliz Navidad."      

For many years, I did "father's duty" and put out the gifts after our boys had fallen asleep on Christmas Eve. They generally stayed up until the local station reported that Santa had crossed the border into Texas.

I would stay awake watching 'It's a Wonderful Life" or listening to the radio. My favorite was Radio Exterior, a Spanish short wave broadcast from Madrid that was already into Christmas Day programming because they were 7 hours ahead.

As we were opening gifts the next morning, and trying out the new baseball glove or Troy Aikman football, I would answer my sons' curiosity about my Christmas Day experiences.  I would enjoy relating about my days in Cuba and how we got our gifts on January 6th rather than December 25th morning.

Pre-communist Cuba was one of the best places in the world to celebrate "Navidad" or Christmas. The holiday was eventually outlawed by the communist regime but families still celebrated it in private and behind closed doors.

Navidad in Cuba started around mid-December when the businesses scheduled their holiday parties and the schools closed. The towns were all dressed up for the holidays. Small and large communities were totally in the holiday mood. Merchants were appreciative of your business and loyalty.

My dad was a young banker and his clients would usually send us "turron" to eat, a delicious treat from old Spain.

Once in a while, one of my dad's clients would send a "pig" ready to be roasted. It was huge and always caught the attention of yours truly, a very curious kid back then!

We had the roasted pig on "Noche Buena" or the evening of December 24th.  We had it with white rice, black beans, "yuca," avocado and my mom would always add her version of "flan," a favorite dessert.

After the meal, the family, and often lots of friends and relatives, would move to the living room.

My mom would bring my dad a little Cuban coffee and then he would light up a big cigar.

By 10 PM, all of the men were fed, smoking cigars and talking baseball.  They were talking Minoso, Pascual and about those winter league teams. They also talked politics, especially as communism began strangling Cuba. 

We ate too much and then it was off to church for the midnight mass. We walked to the parish, a good idea since we had very full stomachs and needed the exercise. (It was really at midnight back then)

On December 25th, we woke up late from the activities of the night before. As always, my mom made coffee for my dad and he was smoking another cigar.

My father's uncle (Tio Joaquin) and aunt (Tia Clara) would always have us come over to pick up Santa's gifts. My aunt had lived in the US and celebrated Santa Claus.

We were always happy to get gifts but did not understand how Santa Claus found time to visit Cuba after so much work in the US.

After December 25th, we got into "gifts or kid mode."  They were the happiest 10 days of the year for Cuban kids.

We had all written letters to the "Los Reyes Magos" (Three Wise Men).  Every kid has his favorite.  My dad picked up our letters and promised to mail them. My mom took us to the park to take a picture with the wise men and their plastic camels.

One merchant had real camels and they were huge.

On January 6th, we woke up early and ran to a small Christmas tree. It was full of gifts left by 'Los Reyes Magos."

We noticed that the camels had eaten the grass and the Wise Men had enjoyed their coffee.  We then would hear my grandmother talk about the wise men and how pleasant they were.

It was a wonderful memory. I have nothing against Santa Claus but memories of those "Reyes Magos" leaving us gifts are priceless.

I think about it every time that Christmas comes around.

FELIZ NAVIDAD!

P. S. You can hear CANTO TALK here & follow me on Twitter @ scantojr.