‘Twas the morning of Christmas and all through la casa, not a creature was stirring except Emery and Lala. Little brother Emery had tiptoed into Lala’s room. He knew she’d be up.
“Do you think we can go out to the living room yet?” Emery asked.
“No it’s only 5:43, let’s let them sleep will 6:30”
Lala was organizing her little pile of handmade and dollar store gifts that her 12 year old budget could muster together for her familia.
“Do you want to go take a peek?” she whispered. Emery nodded eagerly.
She was thinking about a certain box she had seen under the tree. Mom usually didn’t put gifts under the tree before Christmas Eve. This helped reduce the temptations that came with waiting until Christmas and it increased the magic on Christmas morning. But this box was from Tia Patty. The small cylinder shaped box could only be one thing. Never before had she done this, but she shook the box to make sure. A mixture of guilt and sheer joy exploded inside. The sound of small plastic butterfly clips shaking together in the plastic container confirmed that Tia Patty had gotten her exactly what she wanted.
Emery’s big eyes were excited and waiting.
“Ok,” she said, “let’s go!”
With their arms full of gifts to add to treasure under the tree, they tiptoed down the hall.
“Wow” It took their breath away. The morning was so quiet and peaceful. For those few minutes, time seemed to stop.
Every year it was the same, but every year it was a bigger surprise. The lights were twinkling on the tree, the fireplace was stacked with wood and ready to be lit, and the presents. There were so many presents. Where or how Mom always managed to hide all of these presents until the night before Christmas they never knew, but they always knew that late into the night on Christmas Eve, Mom and Dad were busy preparing. They couldn’t remember ever truly believing in Santa Claus, the magic of Christmas created by their Mexican-American Mama, was more than enough.
“Let’s let them sleep for ten more minutes,” Lala said. They added their little gifts to the hearth and tiptoed back to Lala’s room.
Christmas Spirit Lives On
Now on Christmas morning there are too many stockings for the mantle to hold. All of the nietos and nietas come to Ama’s house to experience Mexican-American girls Christmas magic.
Feliz Navidad! We have entered into the Christmas season and I have seen all around me some scurrying about and preparing, hopefully for a wonderful time. O quizas for some, it’s just a busy time or a sad one. Tecomprendo, in Christmases past, I’ve had my share of busyness and my portion of sad losses. With Covid hovering about, it can kill the Christmas joy so we must resist the oppression that tries to creep in. Set the stage, pullout all the stops, bring Christmas into your home, rejoice! and again I say rejoice.
Be Merry and Decorate
On 511 E Delta Street, adrenaline would run high, anxiety would peak until our decorations were in place. We’d pull out our fake Christmas tree, covered in ‘snow’. We had to insert all the branches, hang the shatterproof ornaments we had and sprinkle the tinsel all over the tree, this was done without mother supervision, so you can imagine the beautiful tree. Something about decorating our arbolito, covering our front door with Christmas wrapping paper and flicking on the foquitos so they could shine bright on Delta street. Ahora si! The season was official. Now the adrenaline of anticipation runs over. I can’t remember if Santa Clos got the credit for our gifts, I don’t think he ever did, you see, we didn’t have a chimney. Besides, somehow every year on Christmas Eve we knew our presents were in the trunk of the car.
Ahora en mi casa, it still makes a difference to decorate. Por favor, don’t misunderstand me. I’m not talking about a Pinterest perfect Christmas, not country, not vintage, not rustic or traditional red. I’m definitely not talking about a glamorous and glittery style or girly Christmas. Hijole, I don’t think my Christmas stilo has a name.
The day after Thanksgiving Ben drags in the ladder, climbs up to the attic or mejor dicho the crawl space where we store our Christmas collection and he pulls out box after box labelled Christmas. Mira nomas! The San Diego Greenes have some very valuable relics. I don’t believe I can put a price tag on my kids’ kindergarten ornaments. I loved showing my funny looking “lightbulb face ornament” to my granddaughters and seeing their surprise when they heard that their daddy made it, de repente, it wasn’t so funny looking.
Then there’s my “ugly bear” who faithfully comes out of hibernation for his Christmas shine. This ugly bear was christened Ugly Bear when I wondered where he came from and why he was still around.
“Lets get rid of him, ” I said.
“I bought him for you for Christmas when I was little mom, but you’re right, he is ugly, you can get rid of him” He was not a little indignant, the sting in his voice made me want to run and hide.
Shame! Shame! Tsk! Tsk! When a mother is not appreciative of a gift from her middle son. Suddenly that hard plastic osito feito was beautiful and valuable.
That’s how my decorations shine beautifully, nothing really matches, everything is old and faded. There’s a wealth of homemade crafts that carry me back to Christmases of long ago. My snowman print kitchen window valance. My dear friend Raquel and I worked together on these while my little Thomas sewed his own Christmas mat with a lopsided santa. These are worn but they carry weight.
We have a very old and serious looking Santa who is teamed up with very old and fragile reindeers. They stand regally on the secretary, or maybe now they stand feebly since a few have toothpicks for legs. They used to belong to Ben’s parents who got them from their parents, hijole! Santa barely makes it to town!
Then there’s my snow globe collection and my Nativity collection, both were a tradition started by my sister Patty. Some of my globes have lost their water, their beauty and their music. One little tiny one doesn’t even have its’ glass dome, it shattered a couple of Christmases ago, technically it’s not a snowglobe anymore, but that tiny samurai struts amongst the snowglobes. My Nativity sets are ceramic, wood and plastic. Somehow after 3 generations of Greenes I have one surviving piece of a nativity, a walnut shell cradle with baby Jesus sleeping in it. Ves, pulling out the decorations reminds you of what you had and have and can have in Christ. Decorating for Christmas is not an easy task to accomplish, for a long while the house looks like Christmas exploded upon us. My artist son, with his critical attention to detail, arranges and rearranges everything, but when it’s all said and done, we know it’s official, Christmas has come. Right here I will confess a great infraction on my part, I thought I would get stoned that night in September when the kids discovered that my “all year round mistletoe” was gone!! And that I had replaced it. I believe my niece Sierra is still recovering from the shock and working out a forgiveness plan for me. Having learned a hard lesson, I am scrambling to replace it and vowing that never ever will I remove the mistletoe that hangs in my dining room during my watch.
Going into our house at Christmas is fun for the grandkids and heart accelerating for me. This past week they walked into our house and were so awed by Christmas, same old decorations but they are still stirred by them.Then, just as strongly they get anxious to decorate their own houses, they want Christmas to visit them. Meanwhile, I’m back and forth, que si, que no when it comes to all those little hands handling my Christmas decorations. Last year my outdoor snowman didn’t survive, he was lifted by the arm one too many times, and I’ll never know who the guilty culprit was. We had to put him to rest, he served his family well.
Again I say, Feliz Navidad. What is your Christmas decorating style? Bring it out, let it shine and be glad.