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Esta Navidad Centro Helps You Give the Gift of Culture

By Centro Staff

December 24th looms near and Three Kings Day will be here before we know it. Yes, Christmas to us is more about celebrating en familia, sharing in some of our beloved traditions, and having some delicious food. But let’s be honest for a second. For many of us, presents are also part of the equation. Whether you grew up in a big family or a small family, chances are that there is someone in your life eagerly eyeing the Christmas tree, checking for the arrival of their little something something. I bet that someone is the one friend or family member you still don’t have a present for because you haven’t found that perfect something that says you know them. After all, what are presents for if not to share an authentic connection with your loved ones (and take on more debt)? We don’t know about you, but here, at Centro, our favorite presents throughout the years have been those meaningful ones, the ones that have some authentic connection to our interests, and to who we are. May we suggest you give the gift of culture this year? That’s the kind of gift you, and your loved ones, will not think of returning, not even for a second.  Because we know how stressful and angst-inducing picking that perfect present can be when the clock is ticking, we are making things easy for you by putting together a list from our very own store. From us to you—May your Holidays be filled with all things you love and void of stress!   

  • For your history buff abuelos

They used to sit you down at the dinner table to share stories of their childhood while you made log cabins and played with your food. Their stories charmed and fascinated you because they always spoke of your people, and of your history. Through their eyes, you saw what was possible for yourself. Christmas is as great a time as any to show them that you appreciate the hours they dedicated to teaching you about the history of your people. They may be intrigued to learn about a Puerto Rican pioneer in New York City--Gilberto Gerena. In his memoirs, available in English and Spanish, Gerena takes us into the center of the fierce labor, political, civil rights, social and cultural struggles waged by Puerto Ricans in New York from the 1940s through the 1970s.

  • For your Poetic siblings

As kids, they drove you crazy declamando. They even recited in the bathroom, and you often wondered what kinds of notes they were taking in that tiny notebook they carried around. Today, they delight crowds with their lyrical musings and poignant perspective on social issues. They most definitely know celebrated poet Tato Laviera, known, respected, and beloved for his poetic prowess and for his contributions to Nuyorican poetry, to AmeRícan writing. Laviera passed away in November of 2013, and The Amerícan Poet: Essays On The Work Of Tato Laviera honors his work. The book is a compilation of essays on his work with a twist. It also includes, “ a testimonio composed of interviews in which the author speaks in English, Spanish and Spanglish, four unpublished poems, and the play King of Cans.” 

  • For the Current Affairs tíos/as

We all have one.  A tío/a who eats the New York Times for breakfast and El Diario for dessert. He/she knows the presidents of even the most obscure countries (including Tajikistan), and she/he is deeply interested in what’s going on everywhere—con los de aquí y los de allá. Puerto Rican issues are his/her thing, and she/he is not afraid to share it. The gift of ammo for his/her intellectual recitations may be the best kind of present for this tío/a. Newly published Puerto Ricans At The Dawn Of The New Millennium may blow his/her mind with all the most recent data it includes on the “demographic and socio-economic profile of Puerto Ricans.” He/she has probably already been talking about the staggering changes in “population settlement and dispersion” of Puerto Ricans in the last decade. Now, she/ he will have the proof to support these musings.

  • For the Creative Cousin

Growing up, much to your chagrin, this was the cousin who experimented with your toys assembling and reassembling them. Barbie became a purple haired siren and G.I. Joe may or may not have been melted down to test plastic’s malleability. As you get older, you have come to truly appreciate this cousin’s artistry and secretly hope she/he will gift you one of her latest pieces for Christmas. Chances are that this artist in your family will appreciate any of the pieces in our Nu-Yo-Rican Limited Edition Portfolio. Created for Centro’s Anniversary, it includes pieces from artists who are not only recognized for their love of art but also for their commitment to our community, including Adrian “Viajero” Roman and award-winning Sofia Maldonado. These are sold as a portfolio or separately.  


  • For the baby of the family (and parents)

Have you checked your Facebook feed recently? If you are like some of us, you may have noticed the occasional rant from a Puerto Rican parent  about the dearth of books that capture her children’s diversity. Those parents would be wise to learn about Pura Belpré, “children’s librarian, author, folklorist, translator, storyteller, and puppeteer.” The Stories I Read to the Children: The Life and Writing of Pura Belpré, the Legendary Storyteller, Children’s Author, and New York Public Librarian, not only captures the story of this brilliant woman, it also includes many of her children’s stories, most of which have never been published. As the first Afro-Caribeña contributor to American literature and the author of the first mainstream Latino storybook in the United States, Belpré’s writings are precisely the kinds of writings young Puerto Rican parents are looking for.