Every year we make a large batch of Cremé de Vie or Cuban Egg Nog, if you will.
Photo: Jae C. Hong, AP
And every year we toast, "El año que viene estamos en Cuba." "Next year in Cuba."
This started in December of 1961. We had been in this country for a little less than a year and it was obvious that the whole silly revolution thing was going to blow over soon. Of course, it was.
My parents raised their glasses and said the toast, "El año que viene en Cuba."
My mom would always add, "Si Dios quiere." "God willing."
Year after long year. It will be next year for sure. Next year. No, next year. Maybe next year…
"Si Dios quiere."
The toast endured, even as we quickly and soberly realized that even if we could return, we no longer would. We were Americans now, with Cuban roots. This is our home.
Ah, but Cubans love their roots. We're proud of where we came from. We have endured loss and longing for many years. But we're not dumb.
Now when we raise our glasses and toast, "El año que viene en Cuba," it has become a prayer. Not that we would really ever return to live there, but that our homeland will one day be free and that we will live to see that day.
I gave an interview to the Associated Press last week. Now the story of "The Toast" is being run in hundreds of news outlets across the country. Here's the link on Fox News Latino. (Also, I'm quite delighted to be quoted next to my friend, author Gustavo Perez-Firmat, but that's not important right now.)
It's a proud and bittersweet moment for me to be the face of Cuban exiles and our broken dreams.
But I promise you this, I'm not going to stop toasting, or stop praying for this until Cuba is free.
It may be many, many more years (I hope not) but I'll continue to say it until I take my last breath, "El año que viene estamos en Cuba."
Si Dios quiere.