Every year about this time, Amy and I start making plans.
Of course, these involve places to go and things to do, and movies to make! You see, my daughter is an amazing film editor. (A little known fact, unless you've been reading my blog for the past three years and have been paying close attention, but that's not important right now.)
Every year since my Papi passed away in December of 1999, we have been gathering video and photos and creating what has now come to be be known as The Christmas Video.
A few years ago, we switched over to dvds and burned and packaged the first 8 into what we call The Cucufate Christmas Collection. We've been making and packaging dvds since. (I know. Baking cookies would be so much easier.)
The Christmas Video has been cemented as one of our family's most important Noche Buena Traditions (along with the lechón asado and the turrones).
It is our gift each year to the rest of the family.
Although we stress about it for weeks, we're always proud of the finished product. I am confident that no matter how many gifts everyone receives, this is one that they are guaranteed to keep and treasure. And I love that.
Many times we use old footage from ancient family Super 8 movies collected over the years and transferred to tape. But sometimes we're inspired to do something fresh.
Some of the guidelines we've created for ourselves:
- Everyone in the family must be represented at least once.
- The opening credits read the same way each year. Only adding names of new spouses and new babies.
- Family members that have passed away continue to have their names listed in the credits.
- We choose a Title and five or six songs. (This sounds way easier than it actually is. We agonize and argue over which songs will be included and are prepared to defend our decisions. My niece Helen jumps in at around this portion of the process and adds another dimension to the brainstorming.)
- There's an Opening Song, something funny, something cute involving the kids, dancing (there's always dancing!), and a Crying Song (something poignant and sweet and sentimental with an aww-shucks quality to it.)
- The music has to represent our Cuban heritage and of course, Christmas. (There have been some especially magic moments when these two things beautifully coincide.)
- We keep it at around 20 minutes. (Some are shorter or a bit longer, depending on our choice of songs and what we're trying to accomplish.)
- We will usually have a good idea of what we're doing by the time Thanksgiving rolls around so that we can film people doing stuff on Thanksgiving day.
This year marks the Tenth Anniversary of The Christmas Video. So we decided to mix things up a bit and shoot some fresh footage for one of our segments.
Here's the beauty.... We showed up at Thanksgiving with a bunch of bananas and a banana costume (thanks, Gina!) and gave the family instructions and started rolling the tape.
Use the bananas as microphones and sing these lyrics.
Here I am with my beautiful sisters complying with the first of many "banana behaviors."
Isaac, dressed as a giant banana, leading the Banana Conga Line....
Did they ask questions? NOPE. They just did exactly what we asked. No questions. No complaints! We've asked the rest of the family in Texas and Idaho and San Francisco to send us film. They are already working on their stuff.
Either they trust us implicitly or they figure that if they can't beat us, they might as well just join us. ;-)
This is one of many reasons why I just love my big, fat, Cuban family.
It's going to be EPIC!