A Good Venezuelan Christmas

All we want for Christmas is a Feliz Navidad.

Photo: Gentiuno

Christmas was a time for family, booze and spending money. But this year, the monster of economic crisis grew to legendary proportions and most Venezuelans are powerless against it: people are desperate to buy food they can barely afford, before prices double next week. I often see entire families looking for food in the garbage, so it feels weird not to celebrate Christmas, but it feels even weirder to celebrate anything in this context.

In my house, we are doing our best to have a half-decent Christmas, but it’s an uphill battle.

We’ve never prepared hallacas. We’re one of those families that skip the homely activity of hallaca-making and buy them straight from other families. This year, however, no one is making them. Ingredients are hard to come by, or are extremely expensive. We found some, but only enough for dinner; normally, we would eat hallacas all through December.

Bakeries barely make bread, let alone the traditional pan de jamón. Our pernil is the chicken we bought months ago (we need more for the salad, but we can’t find any – or mayonnaise). There are no sodas of any flavor, so we’re having papelón con limón. It goes without saying, there are no gifts, for anyone.

It feels weird not to celebrate Christmas, but it feels even weirder to celebrate anything in this context.

To top it all, we’re not even facing the communismpocalypse together. I lost count of how many people I care about left Venezuela this year, so it’ll be odd, lonely holidays full of video calls, I guess.

What’s the plan? We’ll have a crappy Christmas dinner, with little to celebrate and no booze to mitigate it all. I’ll be as sad and angry as I should be with everything that’s happening. This, guys, isn’t Christmas. That’s what I’m trying to say. It’s a lame imitation, not the thing with the loud family at the table and enough pernil for everyone to explode, it won’t be the Christmas filled with memories you can smell, when everyone is extra nice to each other and there are gifts and gaitas. Something that lives only in my mind now.

Venezuelans all over the world will try to emulate their versions of my memory the best way they can, and they’ll probably fail. But it’s ok, we’re all trying and failing too.

Let’s keep those memories there, where the communists can’t reach them, knowing we’ll bring them to reality soon enough. For now, I just wish everyone a merry fake Venezuelan Christmas.

And fuck you, Nicolás.

Carlos Hernández

Ciudad Guayana economist moonlighting as the keyboardist of a progressive power metal band. Carlos knows how to play Truco. 4 8 15 16 23 42