Please welcome (again) my guest blogger, Gloria de Lourdes Blalock. She tells us a beautiful story of hope, desires and dreams in describing how this had influenced her striking mantle decorations she displayed this winter. The story is very meaningful and will have you wanting for more, so please grab a big cup of joe or tea to enjoy as Gloria explains in detail her:
A Winter Mantle of Hope
Having been born in Cuba and leaving the island in 1970 at the age of 6, I remember all too well all of the things we had to ‘go with out’. When we arrived in this country, my parents, two brothers and I held hands as we were instructed by my father to kneel and kiss the ground. With this single act, he announced that we were now to pledge allegiance only to this country… for it was the United States that had taken us in and had offered us a chance at a new life. So for the last 40 years, that is what we have proudly done. However, in the last several years, many of my thoughts return to my birthplace and to the way of life that those left behind have led since our departure. Not a single day goes by when I don’t say ‘thank God that we live in America.’
This past Halloween, my mantle offered a sense of decay. As with most decorations made for this specific holiday, they were dark, brooding and ‘spooky’. I tried to correlate this feeling to what I imagine the mood to be throughout this Caribbean island. For many years, the architecture throughout the land appears to wear the vestiges of time. Rot, decay, and negligence has left what used to be a beautiful landscape… tainted with a sadness that has been well publicized since the onset of socialism.
So while during the fall season I tried to capture the mood there today, during this winter season I want to elevate the vignette under my map of Cuba into something that represents the potential and hope that I hold in my heart for Cuba’s future.
Within the plateau of decorations, I have added coral and shells as representational items that can be found there. Beyond that I peppered the branches of both white orchids and Manzanita trees with red and green Christmas balls hanging from cream silk ribbon. A garland graces the top of the framed poster and also runs the length of the mantle, falling to the ground on either side. Small white lights remind me of the same ones used in the trees of the Intercontinental Hotel where my parents honeymooned in Havana. And upon close observation, the starfish appear to be dancing salsa if you could hear the music playing while viewing the mantle.
A single coral Christmas tree with a small starfish topper proudly holds center stage. This was a gift, to me, by none other than your blogger, Laura Jens. Knowing my love for all things inspired by and from the ocean, she knew this would make a wonderful Christmas gift for me.
Below the mantle, hangs a single ornament depicting the ‘Real Reason for the Season’. It is a glass-enclosed painting of the Virgin Mary and Baby Jesus.
One of the things taken from the Cuban people, was their freedom of religion. Over the last several years, there has been some resurgence, but it is not to the extent that it was before. So again, it is my hope that Cuba’s future, encompass all of the magic that I tried to create.
Epiphany is on January 6th, and it is the date in most Latin American countries that Jesus’ birth is celebrated. As children, our gifts were brought to us by the ‘Three Wise Men’ and placed under our beds. From what I’ve been told, this tradition only takes place now in some homes, but not in all. It is not only financially impossible, but something that is government restricted. So here again, lies an example of why I carry only the best wishes in my heart for its future freedom. This wish, incidentally, is not only for Cuba, but for all places worldwide where oppression limits dreams and government restrictions hold back hope.
May the shores that lie so close to the U.S. be blessed with not only the beauty of its white sands, coral reefs and amazing shells… but the magic that it deserves at the start of 2010 and always……