Another year has come and gone, and Christmas is fast approaching.
As a young child, my family did not celebrate this holiday as we were of the Jewish faith. Nonetheless I do have many happy memories.
On the last day of school before the holidays, our teachers in elementary school would give us candy canes. In junior high school we had concerts.
But there are other wonderful memories that I treasure. The one that stands out the most is one I shared with my father. He owned a small business and when the holidays approached he always remembered his loyal customers. He would individually wrap bottles of liquor, cartons of cigarettes and boxes of chocolate. And I would go with him all over the city delivering these gifts. I really treasure the hours I spent with him. We would listen to Christmas music on the radio and enjoy the colorful Christmas decorations lining the streets. And when time allowed, we would stop at the beautiful Christmas display that Carlings used to put on at the corner of Redwood and Main. What a magical sight that was! And of course there was always a box of my favorite Laura Secord cherry chocolates.
On Boxing Day we would visit my mother’s friend Florence. I was always given the honor of making a star for her tree. I also enjoyed playing her old pump organ. And her Christmas cookies were so yummy!
When I had children of my own, we still continued to celebrate Chanukah instead of Christmas. But as they grew older, 8 days of lighting candles became impossible with their hectic schedules. And we began to celebrate Chanukah on Christmas Day and even decorated a white tree. And then it somehow evolved into Christmas, complete with unwrapping presents placed under the tree. Of course the dog always received the most gifts!
On Christmas morning I would prepare a breakfast of bacon and eggs. My children would humor their mother and build a gingerbread house together. And we would play friendly family card games. After a turkey dinner with all the trimmings, we would watch Christmas Vacation together.
I also recall vividly the last Christmas concert I attended. My daughter was taking voice lessons and the students all performed holiday music. My daughter sang the most amazing rendition of O Holy Night, and it still brings tears to my eyes today. Her performance was definitely the highlight of the concert that day.
Here are two of the rare old photos that are on my computer. My son and I were about the same age when these photos with Santa were taken.
Christmas for the past four years has been a very different celebration for me. After having spent every Christmas of my life in Winnipeg, I have spent the past four holidays amid palm trees and cacti. I have been in Varadero, Culiacan, Mazatlan and Lake Chapala. And this year I have decided to stay in Tlaquepaque. And I must admit that at times I do miss that white Christmas, but only for fleeting moments. I took this photo of the tree in the plaza near my house, wearing only a sleeveless tank top instead of a parka.
The plazas often have beautiful nativity scenes, as does El Refugio right here in Tlaqepaque. This photo was taken at Plaza Del Sol in Zapopan.
Tlaquepaque’s skating rink has been open for a few days now in the Jardin Hidalgo. There are constant line-ups for this winter activity. Ice skating is quite a novelty here, and the rink is open for a limited time only during the holidays.
In Mexico, Christmas Eve is the true celebration for families. Ponche and pisole are traditional fare. Children parade around with sparklers. Music, dancing and fireworks are also very common. And there are pinatas filled with candy!
Because Christmas is so family-oriented here in Mexico, I really miss my children at this time of year. They live miles apart from each other in different provinces, and I live in a different country.While I have adapted to the idea of spending the holiday with friends, I really wish that I could spend Christmas with my own children. I long to show them my world and I hope that maybe someday this will be possible and we will all be together again.
Merry Christmas! Feliz Navidad!