Christmas with Ju

Every Christmas Eve, while we got ready for the huge meal ahead of us, my sister, Juliana, used to put on this album with Christmas songs sung by Brazilian country singers. I didn’t like that. I mean, when that album was released I was eight and I enjoyed it by then, but as the years passed I just thought it was kind of lame. Maybe because I didn’t believe the religious words, or maybe because I was sick of it. I don’t know.

Our day started in the morning, but not too early because my mom didn’t want us to be cranky while doing all the work. It was a busy day. We would clean the house until it was impeccable, run to get groceries and cook so. Much. Food. The entire day we’d be listening to that album, over and over again. Although I didn’t really like it, I never complained about it.

The album came out in 1997. My uncle bought it. He had just bought a CD player and was very excited about his purchase. The CD came with a cassette tape, which he gave to us, since we didn’t have a fancy CD player. Everybody — my family and my uncle, aunt and cousins — got addicted to it. That Christmas was probably the most — for lack of a better word — magical that I remember having. I’m not sure if it really was, but that’s what my memories lead me to believe in. It had a sense of togetherness, this idea that we were together not only because we kind of had to — as a family — but because we really, really wanted to.

This year I’ll spend my first Christmas away from my country and my family and I finally get why my sister insisted on listening to those songs. Because throughout the years Christmas felt less and less like Christmas; because she — like all of us — needed something to hold on to. Some would say it was to create some kind of tradition, and maybe that’s true. But it was more than that. It was her way of saying — to my family — “I want that feeling again, I want to be with you”. I understand that, Ju, I really do.

Here, during Christmas time, the weather is different. It’s not hot at all. We’d never be able to prepare everything with the kitchen door open, and Dobby, our dog, wouldn’t be able to come in and out, sniffing the food and asking for snacks; it’s really cold, you have to put on a coat to walk ten meters to open the house gate for guests; nobody watches Chaves on lunch time; the meals are not as extravagant as ours. This year, in my room, I turn the heat way up, open Youtube, and I am the one who puts on that album and listen to it through my little speakers, while I cry myself to sleep. My tears are as warm as my heart filled with the memories that those songs bring to me.

Thank you for doing that for me, Ju. I love you.

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