I have had the most wonderful Christmas ─ a mestizo Christmas! Thoroughly Oaxacan ─ starting with una misa (mass) on Christmas Eve in el Templo de San Augustin. The communion line, serving , I’m guessing 200-300 people, moved faster than ours does at First Congregational Church of Berkeley, with Padre Jose popping a wafer dipped in wine into open mouths about one per half-second. I was shivering with the return of a virus (la grippa) I and many others have been fighting, and understood little of the padre’s sermon, but his gestures and words, spoken with such heart and soul, warmed me. When the prayers were said and the Glorias sung, all 200 of us lined up for our opportunity to kiss the baby Jesus doll in his cradle. The women before me caressed him, spoke to him with all the delight and tenderness of mothers, kissed his small plastic fingers and lips. Soledad and I went to Bar Jardin for a late snack, listened to the marvelous marimbas, watched the carros from the villages driving around the Zocalo with children all dressed up playing Mary, Joseph, Jesus, and the Three Kings.
The next day an American Christmas! La grippa almost stopped me from going to the Christmas Day party I’d been looking forward to all week. But how happy I was to be the guest of my new friend Donna Pierce, at the home of ex-Berkeley-ites Kathy and David! As much as I adore Oaxacan cooking, I was ecstatic to have an American Christmas dinner! ─ turkey, gravy, ham, sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, green beans, baked beans, stuffing, cranberry sauce, sweet potato pie!
I am making new friends, speaking Spanish, writing, loving it here. Loving it deeply.