My first Mexican Christmas was in 1994. My son was attending college in Colima and had just moved into an unfurnished house. We spent the first week or so of my visit traveling and buying things that he needed for his house. If you remember, in December of 1994 there was an economic crisis in México, and the peso rapidly devalued. While this was a terrible time for those with their funds tied up in pesos, it made my funds stretch further for travel and when buying articles for the house.
We traveled by bus to Uruapan, Pátzcuaro and Morelia. It was a wonderful trip. I remember being freezing cold in Pátzcuaro, and getting up in the morning to buy sweet rolls from a cart. We ate our sweets and drank atole sitting in a patch of sun nearby. In Morelia I took thousands of pictures of lovely old door hardware as we walked around Centro and one day we went to a fantastic Morelia – Mexico City soccer game.
At some point we connected up with his girlfriend’s family and traveled with them from Leon to Guanajuato. We ended up spending Christmas at her uncle’s home in Irapuato. Everyone made me feel very welcome, and I especially enjoyed learning about their Christmas traditions. One that I loved was when we all held hands while standing near the Christmas tree, each of us speaking a few words having to do with thankfulness and our hope for the future. There weren’t piles of presents underneath the tree, just one for each child. Christmas eve was filled with food preparation and eating a late dinner that lasted into the wee hours of the morning. Everyone was laughing, drinking, roasting peanuts on a comal, and dancing in the kitchen all night long.
It was wonderful to be included so warmly in their Christmas trip and festivities, as I was only the mother of their daughter’s boyfriend. On that trip I learned how important family is to the Mexican people, and that means all family. I felt a bit like royalty, partly because I was Adam’s mother and partly because I was a guest. All these years later I still think about the hospitality that was extended to me then and try my best to practice what I learned.
That Christmas was a wonderful introduction into what it means to be family in México. It means everything.