Christmases past

2013.12 silhouetteAs a teenager I spent Christmas Eve at the dance. My town in Mexico had a dance almost every day during the last few weeks of December, between holidays, weddings, quinceañeras, and other celebrations. It was the most convenient for families to gather during the holidays from across Mexico and the US. So, Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve invariably found me, my sister and our friends at a dance.

At midnight, though, most of our friends would start an exodus. At a quarter to midnight we’d all gather our coats and purses, and make the trek across the plaza (often in the cold and rain) to go to midnight mass. We’d all stand in the back and stay there for the 30 minutes or so of mass. Some of us would take communion, some wouldn’t, but we’d all return to the dance once mass was over. This was a tradition for us, every year, for Christmas and New Year’s.

Now I spend Christmas Eve with my family, in a quiet celebration. I’ve come a long way.

What was your Christmas tradition?

Latino Thanksgiving

2013.11 pumpkin pie thanksgiving-72274_1280This is a repost, from 2001. I honestly don’t know where I got it at this point. I don’t think I ever knew. Read below and, being honest, own up to how many actually describe your family.

Top 25 Signs You are Having a Latino Thanksgiving Dinner:

25. Your tíos are drunk before giving thanks.
24. There’s a keg of beer and a cooler filled with ice and soda.
23. There are more dishes of food than people.
22. Your tíos do a grito after giving thanks.
21. Abuelita falls asleep at the table.
20. ‘Apa is doing a Bar-B-Que.
19. There are more than 3 turkeys.
18. There are 7 people in the kitchen, all cooking.
17. There’s dancing.
16. Everyone is talking so loud, you can’t even hear yourself think!
15. You are with the family at the campo/rancho.
14. They’re roasting a pig outside.
13. One of your tías is wearing sequence and tacones.
12. One of your tíos is wearing a cowboy hat.
11. There are limones on the table.
10. There’s pan dulce
9. There’s a smell of chicharrones and/or chuletas.
8. There’s potato salad.
7. There are tortillas but no rolls.
6. There’s salsa verde y roja pero no cranberry sauce.
5. There are tamales, cabrito and barbacoa next to the turkey.
4. There’s a bottle of Tapatilo on the table.
3. There’s at least one person named Maria, Carlos, Papo, Juan, Jose, Tony, Tito or Luis at the table.
2. All the men eat at the table first, then the kids, then the women.

And the #1 sign you are having a Latino Thanksgiving Dinner . . .

1. Dinner starts at 9pm, if you’re lucky!

Thank you for your service

2013.11 veteran outline-36464_1280Today is Veterans Day. It’s the day we take a moment to thank the men and women in the Armed Forces for the service they’ve provided to our country and to us.

Thank you.

My brother is a veteran. He served three tours over seas in areas called warzones. He is now a civilian, but he’s always going to be Army at heart. And I am always going to be a supporter of our men in women in uniform.

The Latino Version of “The Night Before Christmas”

This was originally posted on Thursday, December 16, 1999. I don’t remember who gave it to me.


‘Twas the night before Christmas and all through the casa,
Not a creature was stirring-Caramba! Que pasa?
Los niños were tucked away in their camas,
Some in long underwear, some in pijamas,

While hanging the stockings with mucho cuidado
In hopes that old Santa would feel obligado
To bring all children, both buenos and malos,
A nice batch of dulces and other regalos.

Outside in the yard there arose such a grito
That I jumped to my feet like a frightened cabrito.
I ran to the window and looked out afuera,
And who in the world do you think that it era?

Saint Nick in a sleigh and a big red sombrero
Came dashing along like a crazy bombero.
And pulling his sleigh instead of venados
Were eight little burros approaching volados.

I watched as they came and this quaint little hombre
Was shouting and whistling and calling by nombre:
“Ay Pancho, ay Pepe, ay Cuco, ay Beto,
Ay Chato, ay Chopo, Macuco, y Nieto!”

Then standing erect with his hands on his pecho
He flew to the top of our very own techo.
With his round little belly like a bowl of jalea,
He struggled to squeeze down our old chiminea,
Then huffing and puffing at last in our sala,
With soot smeared all over his red suit de gala,

He filled all the stockings with lovely regalos-
For none of the niños had been very malos.
Then chuckling aloud, seeming very contento,
He turned like a flash and was gone like the viento.
And I heard him exclaim, and this is verdad,
Merry Christmas to all, and Feliz Navidad!