Day 117- Chayanne

For those of you who may not know this, for us Latinos, the Christmas festivities actually begin on Christmas Eve. In fact, here on the island, they started long before I got here. You can hear fireworks and rockets at night, and parties are organized long before the anticipated day of our Savior’s birth. (I am writing this from a Christian perspective. If you are not a Christian, please do not be offended. I wish you all the best and much peace, love and joy during your respective holidays.)

Christmas Eve is a very big deal in our family. It bears a special significance to us given the rumor that it was my grandfather’s birthday. ( I say “rumor” because estimates as to the actual day of his birth have varied– I like to believe it was on Christmas Eve.) To be honest, I don’t think he was certain of the exact date himself. My beloved Abuelito passed away three years ago after about a six-year battle with prostate cancer, and his presence is still very much alive in our family. It is a long history rich in traditions and memories that one cannot easily forget. His absence (and yet his presence) is particularly painful during this season. Abuelo Esteban was a teacher by trade, and a musician by passion. He played Spanish guitar, mandolin, and accordion, but whenever he picked up my violin, he managed to force some ungodly sounds from my delicate instrument. (One can’t be a virtuoso in everything!)

These memories are particularly bittersweet to me, as he is the only grandfather I have personally known, and he died when I was in my late teens.

So, this Christmas, in honor of his life and in honor of my family’s history, I hope to commemmorate these moments by sharing with you a little bit of my culture, my family.

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I will start by telling you about a performer whose still-youthful appearance belies his decades-long career, one that has transcended several generations of fans- his name is Chayanne. His mother having been diagnosed with cancer, Chayanne is very involved with different charities in support of people with this disease. The Puerto Rican pop singer is also on the Red Cross National Celebrity Cabinet. He’s also a member of Latin America in Solidarity Action (ALAS, en espanol), which is made up of Latino artists who are committed to “confronting the social emergency facing millions of children in Latin America.”

Chayanne’s office also helps charities through his unofficial fan site, www.islachayanne.org/.

This Christmas, many people are honoring people who have served: our troops, volunteers, and civil leaders. Let us begin a new tradition of our own– that of honoring minority celebrities who love to give back.

In the spirit of Hispanic culture, let me share with you once again the touching video that my friends at Telemundo Orlando made about me and about my fight for the spina bifida cause:

Also, let’s remember that we have much to celebrate as we near the close of 2009. This morning marked the 25th day of debate over health care reform in the U.S. Senate, and I am so relieved and grateful to God that the bill has passed! What a wonderful Christmas gift to the many who are uninsured, and who were once facing an uncertain future.

This Christmas, we can look to the future with hope, and not with consternation.

May you all be very Blessed by God,

Laurita ♥

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