Perhaps the most vivid Christmas memory of my childhood is the last one I shared with my grandfather. I was five years old, and I was a precocious child. I talked nonstop about everything. I didn’t know that would be the last Christmas I’d spend with him, but one thing I knew with all the certainty of my five year-old heart was that he loved me more than he loved any other person in the world. It was so hot that we set our table on the roof of the house. I don’t remember what we had for dinner. I remember he made a makeshift bed on the floor, and I hugged him tight in that hot, hot Christmas night. He was shivering with cold although it probably was more than one-hundred degrees at midnight. We were watching the fireworks go out all over the neighborhood until he pointed a red light that never went out. In fact, it moved all over the sky, bobbing all over the star-peppered darkness. “That’s Papa Noel,” he said.
I think I must have always believed in Papa Noel, but from that night on, I’ve known he’s real. I’ll never forget that last Christmas with my Abuelo Ricardo. If I could wish for one thing it would be for one last conversation, so I could tell him how much I still miss him even though it’s been thirty years since that last Christmas and that I’m happy. That I have two little Yamiles he would have loved with all his heart, and that sometimes my three boys have a way of looking out into nothingness that reminds me so much of him.
Feliz Navidad, Abuelo! You’re so loved!