Christmas in Connecticut – sounds like a Warner Brothers film classic, but for Jose and his loved-ones, it’s the real-deal. We are officially, though temporarily, snow-bound but with a new cord of wood and plenty to keep him occupied, Jose is really enjoying the Christmas Season!
It all started some weeks ago with two amazing concerts in the Northeast: an afternoon and evening engagement at Lehman College in the Bronx (“That was a real homecoming for me, being back in the Bronx…”) and then another at the Playhouse in Ridgefield, Connecticut. “It started snowing on the way home, which made me think, ‘Oh-oh, find my suntan lotion.” But as with all concerts during this time of year, Jose concludes his performance with what he calls his “favorite Christmas song,” several bars of “Jingle Bells,” before morphing into, of course, “Feliz Navidad” where he gets the audience singing right along!
After a couple of gigs in Texas and Arizona, Jose returned to Wintertime in the great Northeast to appear on “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon.” Not only did he get to be on the show but Jimmy’s amazing house band, The Roots, invited him to join in and play with them throughout the entire evening! “That was awesome…what a great band! And Jimmy Fallon has to be one of THE nicest people in show business!”
In between the rehearsal and taping, Jose slipped over to another studio to film a PSA for the RED CROSS, which is scheduled to air during the upcoming Grammy Award telecast. The PSA was designed to remind people that even a year after the tragic devastation of the Haitian earthquake, there are still thousands of people in dire need. The torrential rains and cholera epidemic have only compounded an already horrific situation “..so please support the dedicated volunteers of the RED CROSS as they try to bring relief to the good people of Haiti.”
On our way back to the NBC studio, we walked through Rockefeller Plaza where a Salvation Army volunteer was ringing his bell. Jose stepped over to him and began to sing “Feliz Navidad” into the microphone of his little PA system. As you might imagine, a crowd gathered and again, sang along in unison– the song that seems to make everybody smile. Jose took that opportunity to remind the bystanders that, “Especially at this time of year, (to) remember those who are in need and that the Salvation Army does just that – that is, with your help…”
The next day Jose and Uncle Bill (Rother) went to a local nursing home to share their Christmas cheer with its residents, guests and staff. It’s a tradition that they have continued to carry out for many years and one that evokes a bittersweet emotion in Jose’s gut. But “it’s the right thing to do…”
On Christmas Eve the Feliciano Family joined the community of Westport and gathered at The Church of the Assumption where we welcomed the newborn Savior in song and worship, preserving the Reason of the Season and keeping Christ in Christmas. Jose’s beloved “Little Drummer Boy,” “Adeste Fideles” and “Mary’s Little Boy Child” were well received, but again, it was “Feliz Navidad” at the end of Mass that had the entire congregation’s thundering voice filling the nave of the 100 year-old church on the Saugatuck River!
THE NEXT DAY, A Christmas Feast followed Santa’s visit with a bi-cultural menu featuring a gloriously roasted leg of pork. Then, depending which way your taste buds directed you, there were mashed potatoes, homemade cranberry sauce and Melissa’s green bean casserole. AND for the Puerto Rican palette, there was served Arroz con Gandules (“I didn’t know Susan could make Arroz con Gandules! I thanked her for bringing my Mom back home to me for Christmas. Really, I did…”) and Pasteles, courtesy of our great friend, Lenny Caro (who happens to also be the president of the Bronx Chamber of Commerce). A 75-pound Yule log burned in the kitchen hearth all day long as friends and family gathered to share the Spirit of Christmas.
…and then on the afternoon of the 26th, the Christmas Blizzard of 2010, arrived with all its authority dumping almost 2 feet of snow on our little corner of New England!
It’s been a Holiday to remember–and to think: it’s only the 3rd Day of Christmas! “Excuse us now as we have a Snow Man to build! God bless you all!” ~~Jose.