In a closet at home in Hood River are boxes and boxes of Christmas decorations. They give me great joy, from the noodle angel Annie made at age three to the battery-operated dog who sings a hip-hop version of Jingle Bells.
This is the first year in my life that the boxes will stay in the closet.
We are experiencing a new kind of Christmas here in Oaxaca, replete with posadas (wandering parades of worshipers re-enacting the Blessed Couple’s search for a place to stay and have The Baby) and nacimientos, elaborate large nativity scenes where scale and Biblically-authenthic actors and environs play no role whatsoever. The idea seems to be to gather as many of God’s and man’s creations around Mary, Joseph and the Baby Jesus as humanly possible, and then light the living daylights out of it. I have seen 6-inch high cows next to foot-tall shepherds, next to elephants dwarfed by guys on motorcycles. Somehow this works for me, for Jesus taught that all are welcome in Bethlehem.
The irony of an arid Mexican city adopting Norte Americano Christmas decorations is lost on the population here, who gleefully sell Santa hats and plastic Douglas Firs and sing, “I’m dreaming of a white Christmas … just like the ones I used to know.”
We have wandered the city now for three weeks, miles every day, and I’ve been on high Christmas Alert. Here is some of what I’ve seen.
However you say it: Feliz Navidad. And in case you’re wondering, here’s what I’ll be preparing for Christmas dinner: Roast turkey in mole negro with rice and fresh tortillas, marinated vegetable salad of tiny baby potatoes, carrots and beets with local goat cheese and locally-made apple cider vinager, and for dessert, Oaxacan chocolate panna cotta with candied tangerines