Saturday, December 24, 2005


"...On with the dance! let joy be unconfined;
No sleep till morn, when Youth and Pleasure meet
To chase the glowing hours with flying feet."
George Noel Gordon, Lord Byron 1788-1824 "Chile Harold's Pilgrimage" st 22

One thing I love doing almost as much as writing, is dancing. I was brought up in a rather old-fashioned house with Victorian thinking, so when I was younger dancing was a forbidden pleasure which might lead to heaven knows what! So during high school, in order to attend dances I'd have to make up stories such as "It's only a Square Dance" in order to get permission to go.

By the time I had graduated and started working for the newspaper, I was fully in love with dancing, both classical and jive. I got free passes to see jazz musicians and attend concerts and ballets. I bought myself ballet lessons and later flamenco dancing lessons. I hid my ballet shoes and tights, and flameco shoes and castanets in my bottom drawer so Mom wouldn't find out. But one day she did, and asked me what they were for, so I told her. Surprisingly, she accepted that I was taking ballet lessons. Perhaps because my younger sister was taking figure skating (dancing on ice) which was apparantly OK in my parent's eyes.

Of course, I was too old to ever become a ballerina and after practicing my zapadeados in the marble hallway of the newspaper building while waiting for the elevator, I eventually gave up that idea as well. It was fun though and I never lost my love of dancing or the music that goes with it.

When I was married, my husband and I used to socialize at a private club. Rumba and chacha lessons were offered and we enrolled. So when there were dances, we were able to participate in the latest dance craze from Latin America.

Now it's salsa dancing. I love any kind of Latin American music. It always takes me back to those days past, especially my first trip to California back in '53 when Tito Puente was popular and everyone was dancing the Mambo. I had never heard anything so exciting as that music and I recall my friend and I bouncing in our seats to Tito's music (humming it as we heard it in our heads) all the way home on the Greyhound bus. Who would have guess then that many years later (last year) I'd be in Havana for the Jazz Festival, listening to some of Cuba's finest musicians.

My favourite place to go weekends is the Latin Quarter. That's where my friend Anibal played percussion with an excellent Latino group called Sumalao. I never get tired of listening to them play and dancing to the Latino rythmn even though there's only a small space in front of the band for dancing and we're only allowed after the first dinner seating is finished at 10.30 pm

For weeks now I've had a struggle going there and seeing that vacant spot by the band where Anibal used to sit. Sometimes, when they play songs I know he loved, I have to go outside and cry. I know everyone else there misses him too, especially the band members

Last night, even though I'd had a rather sad day thinking about him, I went with my friends to the L.Q. to dance and it turned out to be an excellent evening. Everyone was hugging everyone and saying "Feliz Navidad" and the band played and sang it too. I danced and danced and let the music flow through me. Anibal always said the music was his therapy. And I think it's mine too. I came home feeling joyful and grateful to have so many loving friends around me.

And today, as I walked to the Drive for my last-minute shopping, what a pleasant surprise!
There were Angels about -- specifically my own Guardian Angel, that lovely Frenchman J.P.
We always seem to meet on the street and it's always big hugs, big smiles, and kisses. Truly magical!

That set the tone for the rest of my day and I am certain that tonight's festivities will be jolly and great fun. He's a 5***** chef and when I told him what was on my menu tonight: "Life's Great Dinners: with cornish hens in sherry sauce, pate, rice and baby peas. Crab bisque for starters, he was impressed.
We hugged again, and off he went to the French restaurant where he works.

I was feeling so happy when I walked up the Drive, but coming past the coffee shop guess who was sitting there holding court -- my nemesis -- so I turned my face and walked by, ignoring her, then took the opposite side of the road back. No way was that person going to be allowed to enter my space on such a special day!

Now it's time to relax before the big cook-in starts and the guests arrive for an evening of merriment. There are loads of gayly wrapped gifts under my little gold tree. I bought a pretty poinsettia and more red led lights for my big plant, so the room looks very festive.
There's pomegranates and ginger ale and a plate of home baked goodies donated by a friend, so Santa will have a some treats too. (That's traditional in our house!)

Oh yes...and another Christmas surprise came yesterday in the mail -- a cheque for a Christmas story I'd submitted to a Christmas anthology. I didn't even know they'd published it! What a lovely surprise. The story was titled Christmas at Grandpa's and was about one special family Christmas when I was nine years old and bought everyone paper dragons for gifts.

So, light the candles (I'll light one for Anibal) and put on the Christmas music (or some salsa and jazz if you like!) pour a glass of ruby red wine and enjoy Christmas Eve with me.


"Praise him with the sound of the trumpet:
Praise him with the psaltry and harp.
Praise him with the timbrel and dance:
Praise him with stringed instruments and organs.
Praise him upon the loud drums;
Praise him upon the high sounding cymbals.
Let every thing that hath breath praise the Lord."
The Holy Bible Psalms 150: 3-6


Gabriele Campbell said...

I wish you a merry and peaceful Christmas time. I can relate to your feelings, so shortly after my mother's death, or Christmas is tinged with sadness, too. And the comfort of memories.

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