A MultiCultural Christmas

We had an intimate but boisterous Christmas Eve, the latest in a week of small Christmas gatherings.

Saturday, we went to town for tourist stuff, rather than shopping: a trip through the serpenario (reptile museum) where we watched a monitor lizard stalking dinner, a visit to the artisania, which is like a co-op of crafters, everything from sculptures carved from cardon cactus, to earrings made of local stone (I bought a pair), to dresses and such, and then lunch at the Hotel Los Arcos: tortilla soup all around. That evening, my parents’ friends Yvonne (African-American single mother from LA) and her husband Paul (incredibly tall white granola guy from the Pacific Northwest), and Jaya and Murrigan (from India) with their daughters Swastika (yes, you read that right, no, it has nothing to do with Nazis) and Pritivi. Jaya is my age, and delightful, and Murrigan is quietly geeky. Swastika is ten and looks fourteen, speaks three languages (English, Spanish, and the not-Hindu language spoken in their region of India that I don’t remember the name of because I’m horrible), and Pritivi, who is four, speaks Spanish fluently and refuses to speak English, even though her parents want her to.

Yesterday we met friends from New Jersey, Helen and Robert, who have known me since before I was born, for breakfast at a place called Goula (or Gula? – it means “gluttony”) where the food is Mexican with a Middle-Eastern twist. I had green chile chilaquiles, and Helen had pancakes and my mother had something called Joquoco, which was an egg casserole (think fritata) with mint sauce, then toured the shell museum before the beach trip mentioned in my last post, then came home and had drinks with my mother’s dear friend and shopping buddy Maria, who is elegant and stylish, and has this rich, cultured Mexican accent that makes you feel compelled to hang on every word.

Today, I was up at five, but thhen went back to bed after blogging, only to be awakened again around eight with the call “Coffee’s ready!” from my mother. We lounged around, then she and Ira went shopping, and I spent a couple hours on the beach here, wandering through the mangrove a bit, but turning back when a hawk made it very clear I was too close to her kill, and exiting a bit faster when I noticed a rattlesnake basking in the noon-time sun. I wandered the OTHER way on the beach, and let the waves flirt with my toes, played an improvised game of tag with a blue heron and some sand pipers (the heron won) and then sat in the sunshine to watch ducks floating on the surf. After a late lunch I crashed hard for three hours, and woke to hear laughter. Marina, who is Italian but learned English while on her foreign exchange year in the Caribbean and is on her post-doc here in Mexico (she’s a veterinarian, but is studying conservation, and wildlife rescue), is our guest this evening and tomorrow, because my mother cannot allow anyone to be alone at Christmas.

She brought her guitar and we sang carols in the living room, then I found an NPR feed from Alabama, of all places, that was broadcasting an hour of Christmas essays from old editions of All Things Considered, which we listened to while Marina and I decorated the stockings with glitter paint, for tomorrow morning (we only had silver, copper, gold, and turquoise, but it worked out well), and then the replay of Lessons and Carols from King’s College, Cambridge, which became our dinner music, while we ate my mother’s homemade broccoli beef, and then snacked on coffee (decaf) and cookies.

I love that the circle of friends we have comes from so many places, and yet all in it share a common respect for the world, and for each other. I love that we can sit in a beach front home in rural Mexico and listen to one of the most famous Christmas services in the English speaking world over the Internet, with better clarity (probably) than those actually in the chapel, and I love that amidst all the hustle and bustle of Christmas we all took a few moments tonight to stand on the deck, and watch the moon rise above the water, it’s burnt-orange glow wishing all of us a holiday full of warmth, light, and love.

Whether you celebrate Christmas or some other Decemberish holiday, or none at all, I wish you the same: warmth, light, love…and peace.

CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 A MultiCultural Christmas by Melissa Bartell is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

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