Well, here it is, six days before Christmas during the Covid which has impacted most of the country’s economy. However, the spirit of Christmas is still here.
I still remember those days when we didn’t have the money to buy any presents. However, we did have our Christmas traditions. The Posadas was practiced at homes and there were refreshments. The ones I distinctly remember was when we lived on Laredo street.
Almost everybody had a Mom and Pop store near where they lived. They were the convenience store where we got our emergency provisions. For everything else we went to “los chinos” store. If there was an HEB we didn’t know about it.
My Mom and Pop store was “Don Chencho”. He had everything we needed and he would give us credit and write it in his book and at the end of the month we would pay him back. Then we started again getting everything on credit.
It was at Christmas time when they would invite everybody in the neighborhood to attend a laying down of the Baby Jesus in back of their store where they lived. It was crowded but they managed to place everybody in. The nativity which was large was set at one end of a large room. The crib had been empty all of December and Christmas day was just ahead. There was a litany of prayers and singing baby Jesus songs before laying a small naked statue of baby Jesus which everybody kissed before laying it on its crib demonstrating their humility. There was straw all around depicting the manger with large sized statues of shepherds and animals all around the crib. Afterwards children were given little bags of candy and fruits which we took home. Of course there were Tamales, Punch and atole (champurado) which we ate and drank.
The Posadas as I have mentioned before were different because it signified the journey Joseph and Mary seeking shelter in Bethlehem. This was done ten days before Christmas. Families in the neighborhood would sponsor a posada each day and we would coordinate with houses in the neighborhood to walk to and ask for shelter using songs that has been passed through the centuries. After they deny us shelter, we would walk to another house until we reach the last house where they would let us in. After a prayer we would partake with Tamales, Ponche and Champurado.
As an afterthought, I would like to mention that two of my Tias (aunts), tia Carmen and tia Esther had a history of celebrating a tradition normally celebrated in Mexico after Christmas, this would take place sometime between January and February. That would be the picking up Baby Jesus from the crib and dressing Him in clothing fit for a king. My two aunts would again invite neighbors to attend. After prayers and singing they would again offer (guess what) tamales and ponche. Later, on a Sunday, everybody who had a baby Jesus in a crib at home after Christmas day would bring their baby Jesus to church to be blessed.
Like everybody else, we followed our traditions as much as possible. Our reunions with friends and relatives like before has been curtailed. We use the Zoom connection through the internet to talk with each other. We are saddened when we find that one of ours has contracted the virus and we can’t visit to console each other.
However, we see that regardless of the inconvenience, we are still celebrating Christmas in every which way we can. The decorations are up, The Christmas songs are being sung at home, on the radio and new Christmas shows are being shown on television. We go on YouTube and watch early Perry Como and Andy Williams Christmas shows. We watch Christmas concerts which are streamed on our cable TVs.
This year my family weren’t able to participate in the Posadas because of the virus but we will continue to have the gathering of only the immediate family for the Laying down of the Baby Jesus on Christmas Eve. There will be a prayers and singing and of course, we will have tamales and little wieners dipped in barbecue sauce and maybe, egg nog. No ponche!
From the Cortez Family