The letter was written in English. My dad would tell me about Los Tres Reyes Magos, the three wise men, and how in Cuba, that was the day he would receive gifts. But here in Miami, my parents were living by American traditions.
So every year, I'd pull out the department store catalogs; Jefferson Ward, Sears, The Gold Triangle. I'd leaf through the catalogs, past the tools section, housewares, pause briefly at the women's bras section, and continue on to what mattered most; the toys.
My sisters would sit with me and help me go through the catalog. It was 1979. Elsy was a senior in high school. Raquel was a freshman. I was a fourth-grader with a crazy imagination, fueled by the introduction of "Japanimation".
A few years earlier I was introduced to Godzilla movies. Godzilla was my introduction to bigger than life monsters, entire cities being destroyed, Japanese people, and really bad English dubbing. Around 1979, a crazy 'Battlestar Galactica'-type Japanese cartoon started airing weekday mornings on a local channel. It was dramatic, explosions happened in slow-motion. It was a combination of lasers and ancient Samurai swords... in space.
That same year, Mattell released... THE SHOGUN WARRIORS!!
The Shogun Warriors were the grandfather of The Transformers, Voltron, and the myriad of other 'robo' toys that followed. These babies were almost 2 feet tall! And best of all, they shot things; stars and battle-axes.
Yes, this is what I wanted most in 1979. Specifically, the one pictured here... Dragun (awesome name).
So I made my list for Santa. Sure I put some other toys on the list, but this is what I really wanted. I finished my letter and handed it to my mom. "Yo te lo mando", she'd say. "No te preocupes, que yo te lo mando", assuring me it would be mailed post-haste.
And yes, I was concerned. This list had to get out quick and early in December. Time was precious for our family during Christmastime. Soon, this family would be caught up in the same madness everyone experiences at Christmas. But when your part of a predominantly Cuban, Presbyterian church, busy takes on a whole new meaning at Christmas.
After all, there are Cantatas to be sung, Christmas programs to put together, and donkeys to chase down through the streets of Hialeah in the middle of the night.