The husband of the host family where I have been living since my reassignment in August from the North Coast is named Fredy (first picture, top left). His mother died Sunday. For this Cuban celebration of his birthday and Christmas Day there was no music. But we did gather to give thanks for another year past and for the hope of a better year forward. Those of a religious bent also gave thanks to their spiritual deity. We were all thankful that the family’s son, Fredy Jr. (USA flag on his chest), was home from his medical studies in Cuba for the holidays. He graduates next year. The lady in the hot pink blouse at the barbeque pit, Nixia, Luz’s sister, is a teacher and wants the world to know that she is an available single mother of three daughters (bottom right picture). Luz is my host mother and in the same bottom picture with her youngest son, Chico. Dr. Durades in the yellow shirt, a surgeon, helped with the cooking. And Caterin, the little pixie, is shown opening the gift I gave her. And I give my personal thanks to Gaea and Grandfather for having allowed me to be here in the company of friends who have provided me sustenance in a land I have grown to love.