December 24, 2011: Nochebuena

Feliz Nochebuena! (That’s what Christmas Eve is generally called here, as you may have divined.)

V. invited me, as well as the New Zealander couple, to join her family for Nochebuena dinner, which we happily accepted. I passed the day uneventfully, bopping around the house and wishing I could be more helpful with preparations (which V. and her daughters had well under control). I settled into the strange but comfortable position of translator: because my Spanish is stronger than the couple’s and my English is stronger than V.’s, I often got to act as intermediary, which made me very excited. (My Spanish isn’t perfect, but what a nice sign of progress it is that I can be a moderately useful translator back and forth between the two languages!)

In the evening, V.’s tía (aunt) arrived for dinner. As it turns out, she lived for many years in California, so she was fluent in English. The couple and I chatted in English with her over pre-dinner snacks. When dinner was served, we migrated to the dining room table, where I tried my best to say every utterance in both languages, so as to avoid linguistically leaving anyone out. We discussed earthquakes, since all of our cities have had impressive histories with them.

Our Christmas Eve dinner was a lovely flavorful fish served over onions — a common Chilean fish called reineta (as far as I can tell, some species of pomfret). There was also a mixed green salad and a vinegar-tomato salad, plus wine. Once we were stuffed from dinner, we had canned peaches with cream. Once we were convinced we could eat no more than that, we had small slices of milhojas cake: layers of crunchy puff pastry and crème fraîche.

After dinner, V. called a cab for her tía, and we bid her & her daughters goodnight with the usual cheek-kisses and hugs. The couple and I stayed up with cups of peppermint tea, chatting for a bit longer about European politics, before we decided to amble bedwards as well. A pleasant relaxed day, spent with a pair of wonderful new friends and a warm adoptive family.

V.'s belén (nativity scene), cozied in next to the telephone.

2 thoughts on “December 24, 2011: Nochebuena

  1. I get pomfrets and pomeranians mixed up, and you can see why. Luckily your chef can tell the difference. “Somber” references a certain undercurrent here in California, where Eleni, Jason, Emmy and I are having a wonderful time yet are aware of something missing. That would be you. We’ll have our own celebration when you return, and I’m so happy you’re enjoying yourself there, but in the meantime, know that you are profoundly missed.

    1. I think you had better be careful of eating pomeranians. I suspect their owners may be a mite overprotective of the little bitesize fellows.
      Thank you, dearie. I am glad to know I’m missed. I can’t wait for our pseudo-Christmas upon my return.

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