Baby Jesus

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!

A

From the Cortez Family

Why do you go to church?

  There was a man who was just getting ready for bed when the phone rang. He answered it and it was a friend who had been buried a month ago. It was a facetime call so he could see who it was. “How can this be”? He asked. “look, he said. I’m just calling you to let you know you’re a candidate for hell”. “How can you be calling me? You’re dead”. His friend answered, “I’m new here and the big man himself gave me this cell phone to call up anybody who I think might be a person who’ll be with me and I’m calling you so you can join me”. He replied, “I don’t think so. Who are all those people with you”?  “Oh, those? They’re in line waiting to be analyze. “See, there are three doors up ahead marked Warm, Hot and Hotter. After they analyze you, they get a ticket to let them know which door they’re going through”.

  After more discussion, he said, “I don’t know about you but I’m a lifelong Christian and I belong to a Christian church so I don’t think I’ll be joining you there”.  “Look, his friend replied, the guy in charge here, he knows a lot about you. He got little demons up there to report to him on what you’re doing and the news is not too good”. “What do you mean”? “Well, he said, remember all those things you’re to follow to be a good Christian? You’re not doing it”. Not only that, your personal life is a mess”. He countered, “I go to church every Sunday and I pray for everybody. I help the homeless and I’m a good father”. His friend asked, “how about your offerings? You don’t give your ten percent. However, you seem to be giving lip service and by the way, why are you even going to church? He answered, “because I was told to go to church every Sunday and I follow the rules”. He replied, “Here we go, step one to get you here. Now, how about your prayer life? Do you pray often”?  He answered, “Not often, sometimes, maybe, but I do pray.” “What I’m saying” his friend replied, “is that you’re not meaning what you pray, you get distracted by other things in your mind. That’s what I mean by giving lip service. Step two to joining me”.

  The discussion went on for a while and this finally went on to his activities outside the church. “you know that the demons here are reporting on all aspects of your life. Your principles and your moral life which make you a better candidate for your permanent visit here”. “That’s nobody’s business but my own”, he replied. I really don’t care about anybody else except for my family”. So, I’ve cut a few corners to get a profit. I do it for the family”. “yes, you do” his friend said, even to the point of lying and cheating and cutting deals and falsifying records to make you look good to your supervisors. How is that reflecting on your family life? You spend so much time at work making a profit that you forgot about your children”.

  His friend continued, “The demons here have got a record on your goings and comings that should make you an outstanding candidate, however, you’re not elected. There is time for you to change your ways. I’ve already told you about your weaknesses and your lifestyle. Really, I don’t want you here with me even if you’re my friend”. He hung up

  Later one of the demons came up to him and asked, “how did it go?” “It went well, I scared him to death.” “Good, maybe we’ll get him sooner than later”, the demon replied. “here’s your ticket. You’ll get a warm door for helping out”. The man replied, “I don’t think so. If he does what I requested he might avoid this place, but thanks for the hot seat anyway”