I can think of some politicians who might have learned a few things from the meal I shared with friends this past Thanksgiving Thursday. It was a celebration across race, nationality and language, religious affiliation, gender preference and probably a lot of other mixed labels that no one thought to ask.
And it’s why, more than ever, it’s important to give thanks for what we do have because it reminds us of what we need to fight for. It’s quite possible that I’m going to become an activist at this stage of my life and I’m OK with that. A gratitude activist maybe.
Yanet and Manuel celebrated their first Valentines Day as a married couple last month, after seven years of dating. (Though here in Mexico, February 14 is the “Day of Friendship and Love,” softening the blow of what my friend Michelle calls “Singles Awareness Day” in el norte. But back to Yanet and Manuel, whose wedding must have surely been the highlight of the season in Teotitlán del Valle, just east of Oaxaca City.
Newlyweds Manuel and Yanet, Teotitlán del Valle
At eight and with a personality as big as his voice, Mauricio is the next Mexico’s Got Talent. For now, he’s rocking a gig at his parents’ taco stand in Teotitlán del Valle, singing and dancing after he takes your order. It was all part of the magic at the town’s week-long holy festival that culminated in a jaw-dropping fireworks show on Sunday.
Mauricio el cantante
Sounds like a pretty easy lunch date: get some take-out pizza, pick up some friends, head over to another friend’s house to eat. In the US of A, it would involve jumping into the car, swinging by Domino’s and just, well, driving there. It’s a little more complicated in Mexico. Continue reading
While some of you were waiting on a groundhog to predict whether there would be six more weeks of winter up in el norte, I was eating tamales with a way cool bunch of women in the tiny mountain town of San Miguel de Valle in the eastern Oaxaca valley.
It was actually a double holiday: Constitution Day as far as the government was concerned, and Día de la Candelaria on the Catholic calendar, celebrating the day that Jesus graduated from swaddling and hit the street in real clothes.
Photo by Kim Groves, En Via
Like the rest of my life here in Oaxaca, Thanksgiving this year packed a double cultural punch.
Thanksgiving spread, photo by Carol Knox
On one hand, there was gringo-prepared turkey and dressing with all the trimmings on Saturday since Thursday was a regular working day here. On the other, there was the opportunity to reflect on some of the things I take for granted on the thankometer every day. Running water, for instance. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
José, not really bar tending
Naturally, the sequel to la boda (the wedding) is el baby shower. In Mexico, it has all of the ingredients of its namesake fiesta al norte (gifts, food, party games) but with a cultural twist that makes it hard to believe there’s not a separate word for it in Spanish.
My friend Siobhan had warned me not to cross my legs or I’d have to put on a giant diaper; José wasn’t listening and had to put on a diaper before he’d been there five full minutes.
I probably shouldn’t have taken the iguana tamales on the bus, but then the bus itself didn’t turn out to be such a great idea either.
The parts that didn’t make the Christmas newsletter:
The Virgin of Guadalupe Festival, which rolled a street carnival, religious celebration and Christmas event all into one over-the-top happening. You could sing karaoke with Michael Jackson, get your picture taken with the Virgin and a donkey – but it was the Shrek Donkey (or with Santa Claus AND the Virgin), and eat a million kinds of fried junk food, ladled from huge vats of boiling oil that the throngs threatened to upend.
It’s a funny thing that Americans don’t invite people to their houses much any more. I’m not sure Martha Stewart did anyone any favors — she made us all feel inadequate to entertain if we didn’t grow the frigging corn before making the tortillas for a theme-based dinner party. (Of course, she’s done her time, but I hear she’s out entertaining again.)
The great thing about Mexico is that people DO invite people over, but the chickens might be tied up outside the kitchen, the floor is dirt so mopping won’t help, and guess what? The food is still usually great.