In 1979, after President Jimmy Carter opened up travel between the U.S. & Cuba, I had a cousin go to Cuba to visit family.
She brought back the most amazing treasure for us: A suitcase full of our family pictures.
This is going to sound odd to some, but I was 24 years old and had never, before that moment, seen baby pictures of myself. You have to remember that we left Cuba with just the most essential things. And my parents were convinced all the political nonsense would be over in no time. We would just wait it out in the states. Well... we're still waiting.
So when she delivered that suitcase....it was like buried treasure. My sisters and I pored over that trove. Pictures of our young parents during their courtship. Documentation of birthday parties, Christmases and summers in Varadero. It was such an amazing gift. This was our life... pre-exile.
My parents celebrated their 40th Wedding Anniversary (December 31st - My dad never forgot an anniversary =D) that year. My gift to them was a chronological slide show - using a Kodak Carousel Projector and some music taped onto a cassette, I synchronized slides I had created of our treasured photos with some Cuban music. I did this manually. Considering what a "ghetto" production it was. It was still a huge hit.
Fast forward to December, 1999.
My parents were then preparing to celebrate their 60th anniversary. We were going into a new millennium. Adam and Amy were both taking Video Production in school.
In the first week of December, I innocently asked them if they thought we could maybe put together a video slide show with some music to show on Noche Buena. An updated version of the one I had done 20 years before. There were so many more people in the family, it would be kind of fun for everyone. We got very excited and started pulling out old Christmas pictures, which we would include in this video.
Then, the unthinkable happened. My dad passed away due to complications from his diabetes on December 11, 1999. Now we had a funeral to arrange. But we were still going to have our Christmas Eve party. It became more important than ever to celebrate our Noche Buena.
The small video project then took on an urgency and a life of it's own. My kids and I worked day and night to pull pictures, create titles and edit. They got extra credit at school for their production. What began as a 4 minute slide show grew to 40 minutes.
We showed it on December 24th as a memorial to my father. We laughed together. We cried together. The men lit up puros in his honor. And a tradition was born.
We called it: Y 2 Que? (we still believe that title was divinely inspired)
Amy is teaching Lucy how to edit using Adobe Final Cut Pro and both Macs. That's a TV on the left that they hook up the digital camera to, so they can see what they are capturing. Amy has begun calling Lucy, "Goddess of the Sub-Clip."
We have graduated to making dvd's. There is still an urgency to making the "Christmas video" that has never quite left us. Through the years we have uncovered old super 8 films from the 50's and 60's and used them in our productions.
The tradition continues. Everyone is already anticipating the production. We don't just "have Christmas." This is a unique way we CELEBRATE our family.
I will write more another day about our video productions, but not today. I have to go cry now.
In nothing are we as rich as in our memories.