Here in Cali, Colombia on the night of December 7th (last night!), the Festival of Lights is held to commemorate the Immaculate Conception. The candles are lit to show Mary the way on her journey to Bethlehem on the donkey. Cheesy cardboard luminaries of multiple sizes and color go on sale on the streets and in the stores for the event. Of course we participated by buying some colorful Mother Mary flimsy stand-up holders for our six little blue candles…. one for each family member. With great care and enthusiasm, we lined them up in the sprinkling rain in front of our little home. Yes, they kept blowing over. Yes, the candles kept going out, but the spirit of the night was alive!
Our measly display was nothing compared to the streets, sidewalks, balconies and terraces of our little gated community. The band of 12-14 year old soccer players even came by our place and lit a small fireworks display in our driveway for us! We were told that the celebration of the Night of Candles is one of the most beautiful ones of Colombia and it’s true.
There was also an all-night fiesta of the Colombian nature held in the cabana next to the pool outside our back door. A live band, salsa dancing and mucho food kept the party-goers laughing and dancing until 6:00 am. Yes, you read that right… SIX in the morning. Thank the good Lord someone invented orange foamy earplugs. Our neighbors invited us to go with them, since we weren’t aware that we were supposed to bring food. That’s what good neighbors are for! The festivities didn’t get started until 9:30 last night, and with Nora needing to go to bed, I stayed home and contentedly watched through the sliding glass door.
Rick took our three eldest kids and they all laughed and ate with our Colombian neighbors in the balmy 80 degree night. Austin, our 14-year-old, came home first. He reported that he only went to see his father make a fool of himself and that happened in the first five minutes on the dance floor… so he was done. About an hour later, Keeve, our 12-year-old son, wandered in with a wide smile on his face reporting that Dad can “almost salsa dance” and that Larisa “is totally getting it!” At that point, I was thankful for our little muchacha needed a guardian to stay home with her. Another hour later, Larisa, our dance-loving 17-year-old came through the patio door and told me that Dad is actually learning fast and is pretty good “but don’t tell him I said so.” I questioned if she knew when Dad was planning on returning. She replied, “Well, he’s dancing with all the ladies who don’t have partners and he’s about done.” Of course he was!!!
A new Crosby tradition was born last night. Forevermore, we will light candles on Dec. 7th to remember our night in Cali once upon a time and to keep the Colombian traditions alive. After all, Mary played a significant part in the Baby Jesus story.