It was the day of my first posada.
I was both nervous and excited.
For months, we’d been practicing
at the Salon de Colores with our catechism
teachers and nuns. That night, we
were driven across town to re-enact
the Holy night en Español.
“Os pido posada,” I harmonized
the familiar lyrics even as I struggled
with and straightened the new ribbons
Mami had put in my curled hair.
My younger sisters, Alicia and Virginia,
like pretty roses on the vine, swayed
delicately from side to side and leafed
through the programs in their hands.
At the Victorian house in an affluent
neighborhood, los ricos had finally let us in.
The Christmas lights twinkled in our
eyes and the reindeer in the driveway
were taller than most of us. We marveled
at their beauty as we walked cautiously
beside them. My sisters graciously
took hot cocoa and cookies from the
lady of the house.
The same blonde woman in a festive
dress called me “Gordita” as she patted
my chubby cheeks and handed me hot
cider in a china cup and two sticks
of celery on a Christmas napkin.
My face burned with shame, and the tears
rolled down my face before I realized
I was crying.
“Gracias,” I said, as I curtsied and walked
away. Outside, I hid among the prim
hedges and pretended not to care about
the music and the laughter coming from
the tall, bright windows of that house.
A thin, blonde boy in a dark gray suit
came cautiously across the lawn.
“Hello,” he whispered and smiled.
His breath was laced with the sweet
scent of piloncillo and the pumpkin
empanadas in his pockets were still
warm when he unwrapped them
and placed one gently in my hand.
The cold of winter warmed my cheeks
and I blushed a bright, deep, red.
We stood together, without talking,
nursing our warm pastries, feasting
on the silence of the blessed night.