What is Nochebuena?

The lechón smells delicious as it finishes roasting in the oven, the majority of the gifts are wrapped and underneath the Christmas tree and the playlist full of trullas navideñas and villancicos is ready for tonight’s Nochebuena celebration, which I’ll be hosting in my home this year. It’s going to be a long night… but one of my favorite ones of the year.

I doubt we’ll wait until midnight to have dinner — like we  used to when I was a child since we first went to Misa de Gallo — but we’ll be sitting down at the table fairly late. Past 10 p.m., I’m sure. If my dad was still alive, we’d be having turkey, like most Peruvians do for Christmas. But he’s gone and nobody makes turkey like he did, so we’ve switched our menu to reflect my husband’s Puerto Rican heritage. And, although I’m obviously partial, he makes a mean lechón.

Dinner will go on a forever and it’ll be loud, although not as much as other years, since not everyone in the family is in town. I know I’ll be stuffing myself with all the goodies on the table, but I can’t say the same for Vanessa, who half-way through dinner will start asking when we’ll be opening the gifts. The asking will go on incessantly, until we finally gather around the tree and start the gifting frenzy.

But first, at the stroke of midnight, I’ll hand Vanessa the little Baby Jesus figurine, and she’ll put it in our pesebre. After that, we’ll make a champagne toast and there’ll be a lot of hugging, kissing, laughing and all around happiness as we all wish each other ¡Feliz Navidad!

When I was little, my mom had my sister and I read the names on the gift tags out loud and then we all had to wait for the person to open their gift to see what they got. Now that Vanessa knows how to read, I’m passing on that responsibility to her. I think she’s going to be a great helper and she’ll love being in charge!

Before the night is over, we’ll have some Panetón and hot chocolate — a Peruvian tradition — which will be a perfect way to end the first Blanca Navidad Denver has seen in many, many years. (Yes! It’s snowing!)

On Christmas Day, the kids will wake up and open the gifts they got from Santa. I hope they sleep late, considering we’ll be going to bed super late tonight, but I know that’s wishful thinking. The rest of Christmas Day will be super lazy with the kids playing with their new toys and the rest of us eating leftovers — if there are any — in our PJs.

Here’s wishing you a very Merry Navidad!

{Photo by  lett -/\=}

Recent Posts