The Omicron variant is leaving a lot of holiday plans up in the air. Some of us are celebrating with as many people as we can before the lockdowns start again. Some of us are already hunkering down until the curve gets a little flatter. Either way, we've got lots of holiday stories from our older buds to keep that warm glow in your heart throughout the cold months.
My Best Meal
I want to use this essay to tell you about a quasi-perfect diner where I had the chance to be, and how a little of human stupidity ruined it. I have no criteria to evaluate, or perhaps I don’t like to evaluate or compare special moments of pleasure or happiness. Each moment is unique, in a way perfect per se. How to evaluate those special moments I have lived laughing, teasing, mocking, listening, solving world’s problems, joking, gossiping, bragging, all over eating food that occasionally served as an excuse to essentially enjoy the moment? I’m not saying that food is not important. But to eat per se, for me, it’s not a priority. Companionship is the complement for the indulgence of the moment, and for me one of the great pleasures is to share those precious moments with those that are flavoring, chewing, sniffing, digesting the same meal as I. Perhaps the proper name for that condiment would be “eater’s intimacy.”
Back in the year 1975 my brother Ramon, Maria and I were invited by Carlos, my youngest brother to eat Christmas diner in his apartment; Carlos had only being one or two years of married with Sylvia, and many details announced publicly important grievances in that marriage. Carlos as the youngest sibling and being the only and last companion of my aging parents, had capitalized before marriage the constant recreation of my mother’s good cuisine that she performed superbly. I could say he was permanently spoiled by good food. Mom had several special plates for each season, but for Christmas the traditional plate was stuffed turkey. I don’t know too much of cooking but I suppose each dish has its own challenges. Yet, perhaps, the biggest challenge comes from our crazy mind that loves to spoil the present moment with analysis, comparisons and evaluations. For my taste that dinner was perfect. The food was delicious. Ramon, who now is an impassioned Christian, in those moments was an amusing hippie. He entertained us with his everyday experiences more proper of a teenager. After a while Sylvia noticed that my brother did not say a word about the stuffed turkey and asked my brother, “Well Carlitos what do you think about the turkey?” Carlos answered, “Well it’s all right, but the best turkey I Have ever tasted is my mother’s turkey.” Maria and I look to each other expecting Sylvia's reaction because she was a very straight and temperamental woman. Then Sylvia screamed to him: “Well the next time you want a stuffed turkey you will ask your chingada madre (fucking mother) to please you!” And left the room in fury. I thought all was petty! To ruin a splendid moment by a foolish attachment. Ramon tried to minimize the incident telling jokes and saying to the audience “Well, for me this meal was splendid because of the food and the company except…for my taste, the only missing ingredient was a good marijuana joint.”
P.S. Sylvia and Carlos divorced a few years later.
Fun at the Lodge
Several years ago I was invited to go on a ski trip with my aunt to upstate New York to the Wallkill Ski Resort.
I had never been skiing and was excited to have the experience. When we arrived at the mountain, the snow was falling quietly and the air was hushed as the snowflakes fell to the ground. I loved the beauty of the mountain and the sight of avid skiers zooming past me. What struck me the most was that there were hundreds of young children among the adults who were skiing amazingly well on the ice. They almost looked like they were performing at the Olympics. My aunt and I went to the lodge to put on our skiis. The ski boots were difficult for me to manage because my ankles were weak.
We headed out to the slopes to get instruction on to manage the skiis and the poles on the ice. My aunt had been skiing many times and was familiar with how to maneuver the slopes. When we went out to start learning how to ski I had brought my pocketbook with me and my aunt said to me, “What are you doing with your pocketbook? You need to put it in a locker.” I said, “That's okay I'll just put it around my neck.”
As the ski instructor showed me how to step from side to side I demonstrated back to him what he had shown me. As I took another side step forward something happened. All of a sudden I started to move, and when I say move I mean move.
I was skiing down the slope in front of me so fast that it felt like I was going 90 miles an hour. I heard myself screaming at the top of my lungs. In a panic I started reaching for anybody to help me break my fall. All of my targets skied away quickly. Down the first slope I went continuously screaming and picking up even greater speed. I heard peals of laughter behind me plus a familiar voice, my aunt being the loudest. I started praying, calling on everybody in Heaven to save me. I heard a voice say, I don't know if it was my instructor, “Use your poles, use your poles.”
I kept saying to myself “I’m going to die, I'm going to die.” I started jamming the poles into the snow but I I pushed them so hard into the snow that they curved, I broke them. I couldn't use them, they were all curved and I was screaming, I was crazy. “I’m going to die, I'm going to die,” I kept screaming. The hysterical laughter got louder and louder behind me.
All of a sudden a cliff appeared a head of me. It looked ominous. I saw myself going over it and plunging to my death. I screamed loud in terror and lost my voice.
Suddenly, from what appeared a miracle. There was a barn or a small lodge ahead of me. I picked up supersonic speed, I saw two huge trash cans. The next thing that happened, I plunged head first into the trashcan, skiis sticking out of the top. Finally, my instructor and my aunt came to assist me out of the trashcan. The instructor tried to control his laughter and I saw the sides of his lips trembling as he tried to gain his control. My aunt was continuously laughing and doubled over holding her stomach. I kept complaining that no one would let me grab a hold of them to stop my fall. My aunt said, “Can you stop a speeding bullet?" I was in intense pain and when I arrived home I had turned blue, purple, yellow, brown and green on my buttocks and on my legs, and I said to myself, “I am never going back again.”
This story was one of my aunt's favorite stories and she told it every time we got together, when family got together for Christmas or whatever holiday. She said I was flying down the slopes, she said I looked like Snoopy with a little red scarf flying behind him. I still laugh about it, but that was my last ski trip.
If you want to transcribe for Best Day, then email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also share our older buds' adventures by donating to Best Day, subscribing to our newsletter, sending a note to our older buds, or following us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. And if you or the older buds have holiday stories then you or they can submit stories through our portal right here. We're especially interested to stories from Black older buds, but we're always looking for stories from older buds of color, older buds with disabilities, LGBTQIA+ older buds, older buds of any gender or sex, older buds of any religion, and older buds who just plain break the mold.
And don't forget to maintain contact with the older buds in your life. If you can't be there in person, please call them, email them, or message them on social media. And if they're using teleconferencing or remote events for the first time, give them a call and help them set things up. Check in on them to see how well they're getting used to these programs. Buy them a computer or an internet package if they don't have one of their own. It's a human right, after all.
Curated by Caitlin Cieri