Yaya is visiting for a week. This picture pretty much summarizes the trip:
An email I got from my dad last week, relating a story one of his friends told him (he’s currently working in El Paso, near the Mexican border). I thought it was a neat story:
Juan Garcia told me an interesting story. There’s a group of dancers in Juarez that dress up in the costumes of the northern Indians and, this time of year, go around to dance at places that celebrate the Virgen de la Guadalupe. One of those places is Juan’s sister’s house.
They do this every year and it has gotten so big that the police closed off two blocks of the street. And the tradition is that his sister has to feed the dancers and their families, AND any neighbors that come by. His family made 100 pounds of tamales and three huge ollas (pots) of soups and stews. After the dancing they began feeding everyone. Juan said there was a long line of neighbors and he didn’t think there would be enough food. His old mother just kept saying that God would take care of it, and sure enough, there was just enough food.
After it was all done, everyone left. What remained was to close the celebration with someone saying the entire rosary. The lady they thought was going to doing it didn’t show up but later a really old Mexican lady came to the door and said they needed a rosary. No one had any idea who she was or how she knew. She knelt and said the whole prayer bead by bead then just rose and left. Juan was spooked by this and asked if anyone knew her. They didn’t but his mother just said, “God takes care of everything.”
Speaking of celebrating the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe — for those of you who aren’t familiar with it, Red Neck Woman has an excellent, short summary of Our Lady of Guadalupe in this post (it starts under the second picture) — imagine my surprise when I got this package from my kind friend Abigail in the mail:
It’s a kit to do a family OLG Tea (like the one described here at Cottage Blessings). She knows that this is one of my favorite feast days so she decided to surprise me with it so I could celebrate with the kids. How sweet!
Check out these mall scenes:
They’re from the Abu Dhabi mall, taken by my dad when he lived in the United Arab Emirates. This is a mall that includes a mosque and is wired with speakers that loudly broadcast the daily Muslim calls to prayer. If their shoppers aren’t horribly offended by Christmas trees and Santa displays, it makes you wonder whom, exactly, certain American retailers think they’ll be shocking if they do the same thing.
As I was soaking up the joyous seasonal ambiance earlier this month, a terrifying, blood-curdling thought occurred to me: WHAT IF CAROLERS COME TO MY HOUSE?
Singing. Interacting with people I don’t know. Unexpected visitors. Strangers at my door. It’s like the perfect storm of everything I’m bad at.
My husband seems to have some kind of innate knowledge of how to navigate the situation and is completely at ease with the notion that AT ANY MINUTE a group of strangers could show up at our door and start singing. Evidently I was not born with such knowledge, so I’ve been peppering him with frantic questions like:
- Do I have to give them eye contact the whole time?!
- What sort of facial expressions would be most appropriate — nodding, smiling, mouthing the words but not singing?! (My natural reaction would undoubtedly be some kind of nervous twitch, so these are things I need to know!)
- Should I sing along (no doubt to the horror of everyone)?!
- Do I invite them in before or after they start singing (if at all)?!
- Are there any customary gestures one does before they start singing (e.g. introducing yourself, making up lies about why the interior of the house is so messy), or do they just start singing as soon as you open the door?!
- What if I’m right in the middle of something when they show up?! Can I tell them to wait a minute…or maybe suggest that they keep singing but assure them that I can hear them from the kitchen?!
This is like the sign of peace: it’s a beautiful gesture that warms my heart…but it’s just too complicated (and too rife with opportunities for social awkwardness) for someone like me.
One of my favorite Christmas presents ever, given to me by Yaya last year in honor of my infamous scorpion woes:
Our baking day (that I mentioned in #1 here) was a great success. We got tons of great cookies that made fabulous, cheap gifts for friends and family. Some pictures:
I look forward to reading your posts!