Memories Of Margarita Pracatan At Christmas

Given that I’ve put dinner interviews on hiatus until the coronavirus pandemic is over, there won’t be a festive-themed meal with a stranger this year like my December 2011 dinner with Santa Claus. Instead, I wanted to post something in memory of my late friend and former interviewee Margarita Pracatan.

2020 has been a truly horrendous year for many reasons, including the loss of Margarita. This exuberant Cuban singer — the third-ever interview on this site back in 2009 — was a marvelous and truly one-off human. She loved to sing, play piano (not always on time or in key) and enjoy life, typically with a glass of Grand Marnier within close reach. When we met for the interview at a Japanese restaurant she found the setting too formal, so we cut the meal short and spent several hours at her apartment singing and carrying on while I learned about her life.

We stayed in sporadic touch after that first meeting and every time I would travel up from DC to New York I’d try to meet up with her, usually at her place for a few glasses of wine and Grand Marnier while singing songs that would typically stray from the words and the notes on the page.

On one of those visits in late 2009, it was December and Margarita and I decided to sing some festive songs and record them for this site. First up was our rendition of “Merry Christmas,” which speaks for itself.

Actually, our joint attempt at “Feliz Navidad” is also best presented without commentary.

Finally we decided to mix things up by singing the hit “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus,” although it’s evident from the video that I forgot the lyrics pretty quickly. Whoops.

Watching the videos now is bittersweet, but I’m happy to see that they give a great sense of just how much fun this amazing woman was. I know I’m among the many that miss her terribly, and I’ll be sure to raise a tipple of Grand Marnier in her memory this holiday season.

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