It's been ten years since Enrico and I left Puerto Rico, but we try to go back to the island at least once a year to visit our family and friends. The Holidays are our favorite time to go, since it is a nice break from the Midwestern Winters, plus there is nothing like the Holidays in Puerto Rico. Year after year we go back to the island and come back home, rested and refreshed, to deal with the long Winter ahead of us. That was before Lucia and Joaquin were born; now it is a completely different story.
Hard to Say Goodbye
I wish I could tell you that it is easy to leave Grandparents, cousins and friends, but it isn't; there is always a part of me that wishes to stay a little bit longer. When we decided to part from the island and the family, we knew that saying goodbye was going to be a constant struggle. Every time someone comes for a visit, we are prepared to say our goodbyes; it is part of the living abroad package and, so far, it hasn't been that big of a deal. Year after year it gets a bit easier and we just got used to saying goodbye to our loved ones.
Lucia and Joaquin are crazy about their grandparents, uncles, aunts and cousins. They flip through the pages of photo albums on a daily basis and recognize each and everyone of their family members. Every time someone comes for a visit, they are both ecstatic. The kids absolutely enjoy each moment they get with family and friends, and they absolutely hate the moment our guests get to leave. I thought that eventually it was going to get better, but in my children's case, it has been the exact opposite.
In the past couple of months we had Grandparents, cousins, aunts and lifelong friends coming to visit. My house turned into a bed & breakfast for the Summer and, since I love hosting guests, it has been a dream come true now that we have the big house and the yard. Both Lucia and Joaquin had a blast surrounded by so many loved ones that came to see us. It is such a pleasure until it is time to say goodbye. They are not leaving us, right Mami? It breaks my heart when I have to tell my kids that we have to kiss our loved ones goodbye. They just don't understand it and the kids automatically feel abandoned. The worst part is that it doesn't matter what we say to them, we can't stop them from crying every time someone leaves. I thought I was strong enough for my children, but these goodbyes had been extremely difficult on me as well, since I feel 100% helpless.
Take the time my dear friend, Mariela, was in town with her family; we had a blast together. She has two beautiful daughters and one of them happens to be Lucia's age. For three days it was all fun and games. Picnics, BBQs, music, parks, movies with the kids; and wine, fabulous food and great conversation for the adults. I was not looking forward to say our goodbyes to my friend and her family; but in the blink of an eye it was already that time; time to say goodbye. Lucia and Mia were a complete mess and don't get me started on Mariela and I. We were all hugging each other, crying like it was the last day as a High School Senior, and it was so hard to let them go. We all desperately needed a pick-me-up. I took the kids with me to the gym for a very much needed hard spinning class and afterwards we all went out for ice cream and cookies. Nothing like a good sugar high to cure the matters of the heart; works like a charm.
Last week, my mother-in-law and my nephew were in town, but this time I was prepared for the very much needed pick-me-ups after saying our goodbyes. Homemade chocolate chip cookies, vanilla ice cream and Nutella straight up from the jar (for me), did the trick. Of course the kids were sad when the family left, but this time Lucia said to me We'll see them in Puerto Rico for the Holidays, Mami. I just smiled and said Yes, Lucia, this is part of our lives here, but we'll get to see them again very soon. And I finished the conversation with a big hug, a kiss and a happy tear...She was beginning to understand goodbyes. Ay Mama!
Homemade Chocolate Chip Cookies (I got this recipe from a friend and it is a keeper!)
-1 cup unsalted butter (soft)
-1 cup white sugar
-1 cup packed brown sugar
-2 tsp. vanilla extract
-3 cups all purpose flour
-1 tsp. baking soda
-2 tsp. hot water
-1/2 tsp. salt
-2 cups semisweet chocolate morsels
Preheat oven to 350 F. Cream together butter, white and brown sugar until smooth. Beat in eggs (one at a time) stir in vanilla. Dissolve baking soda in hot water and add to batter with salt. Stir in flour and chocolate morsels. Drop by spoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets.
Bake for 10 minutes, or until golden brown. Buen provecho!