Christmas Eve with Rosario
We received two invitations to Christmas Eve parties. One was a large, fancy event for the glitterati, mostly gringo, at a mansion at the country club. The other was a gathering of Rosario's family in her modest home. We chose option #2.
Rosario is our cook. She is illiterate, as is often the case with girls in her generation that come from poor families. Ana Maria, Rosario's daughter, works as our housekeeper. Rosario is thirteen years older than Ana Maria, another reason Rosario couldn't go to school. Ana Maria did go to school; she reads and writes for her mother when needed.
Ana Maria's eight-year-old daughter, Teresa, often comes to our house before school, where she draws or watches TV or plays with Rosita, our Boston Terrier. On Christmas Eve, she dressed as an angel.
I love the intimacy of Mexican people. Boys hug each other. Girls hold hands or link arms as they walk down the street. Teresa automatically includes her cousin, Humberto, in her photograph, draping her arm around his shoulder, he with his hand around her waist.
A huge, round table had been set up in the living room for Christmas dinner. A dozen chairs, no two of which matched, were pulled up to it. Jean and I were asked to sit, and dish after dish of food was brought out. The women had cooked all day. Cousins, nephews and nieces drifted in and out of the room, sitting to eat and then moving on, making room for others. Rosario didn't own enough dishes for everyone, so some of us used plates, others, bowls, and as each person finished, dishes were cycled through the kitchen for washing and drying for the next person.
Dinner was festive and delicious. Jean had prepared a Costco-sized box of Duncan Hines brownie mix which was a big hit.
There was to be a posada in Rosario's fracciónmiento, and three of her grandchildren had major roles.
Teresa was, of course, an angel.Two of her cousins were Mary and Joseph. Their mothers made their costumes. Mary, Joseph and the angel rode around in the back of a pickup truck (what else?) leading a procession of neighbors from house to house, singing and asking for room at the inn. Afterward, the kids broke open a piñata. Then everyone drank ponche (punch made from cooked fruit) or atole (a thick, hot drink made from ground corn).
Here's what we got for Christmas: Talking in Spanish, a delicious meal that cost maybe twenty bucks for twenty people, the warmth of a nice family, lots of hugs and kisses, and a Christmas Eve that was about the birth of Christ.
Here's what we didn't get: Champagne, designer gowns, canapes, one-upmanship and Burl Ives singing It's a Holly Jolly Christmas.
Good deal, huh?