Sunday, January 09, 2011

whacking the piñata

Saturday was fiesta day in Villa Pinal -- a small village about two or so miles north of Melaque.

The church I attend (San Patricio by the Sea) has formed a relationship with the village school (highs and lows).  Each Christmas for the past three years, some of the congregants have put together a late Christmas party for the children. 

It probably should be re-branded as an el dia de reyes party because it is always close to Epiphany.

All of the ingredients for a great Mexican party were there.  Music.  Cookies.  Punch.  Piñatas.  Gifts.  Opportunities to dance with a real Disney princess.

The street in front of the school was blocked off.  The village organizers set up chairs and tables.  And the children and mothers started flooding in.

The main event was the piñata -- or, I should say piñatas.  When it was broken open, it was followed by two more in succession. 

North of the border, we tend to think of busting the piñata as an individual accomplishment.  But it is a true community event down here.  The batsman often provides the group with candy -- and ends up empty handed for the effort.

The young children took their whacks first.  Batting rather ineffectively. 

Even though a few well-placed hits knocked off decorative symbolic cones.  But the candy-filled body remained generally intact. 

The youngsters played the role of picadors against their quarry.  Just doing enough damage to pique the interest of the crowd.  Enough wounds to promise something good was in store.

Several older boys waited patiently in line.  Eyeing the bouncing piñata.  Looking every bit like ball players just waiting to get into the batter's box. 

A couple of teenage girls showed they had good mettle.  But it was the boys who had the courage to look foolish in the quest for a moment of glory.  And glory they got. 

They flailed and bashed until candy rained down on their fellow celebrants.  More than one child ended up with a whacked noggin by rushing in too quickly to claim ill-gotten gain.

The fiesta warmed my small town heart.  This is the type of event I remember fondly while growing up in the coastal mountains of southern Oregon.  Whenever there was some event, the entire town turned out to make it something special.

After dispatching all three piñatas and distributing the candy according to Ayn Rand principles, the children lined up to receive gift bags.

"Lined up" is not an attempt at irony or sarcasm.  They really lined up as if they had been attending a German school.  Their teacher divided them by age and sex, and they filed by their respective tables to pick up their bags.

Volunteers at the church spent a couple of hours on Wednesday packing bags for 325 children -- with notebooks, crayons, pencils, coloring books, balloons, candy, tooth brushes, and too paste, note book paper, and other age-appropriate gifts.

Once the loot was distributed, the children started wandering off to their homes.  The fiesta was over.

There were no effusive Anglo-Saxon affectations of gratitude.  An occasional gracias.  But no "Oh, you shouldn't have."

We talked about what we could expect to hear during Bible study on Thursday evening.  And about the purpose of sponsoring the party.

We were not there to earn God's love.  (Jesus warned against any such motivation in Matthew 6:1-2).  We were not there to save the villagers from their poverty.

We were there to share a fun moment with them -- a moment that came directly from our heart to theirs.

The smiles were thanks enough.


noble said...

This is a beautiful post, Steve. Your photos are pure gold. I particularly like the one of the three boys waiting and the last group shot. Truly worth a couple of thousand words.

Steve Cotton said...

Thank you. It was quite an event. I took over 200 shots. The piñata was a great point to catch the emotion of our little fiesta.

Islagringo said...

Very, very nice story. With a great ending.

Steve Cotton said...

This was one of the best events I have attended in Mexico. I look forward to being part of it next year.

Don Cuevas said...

Our posada celebration did not include a piñata this year.

Don Cuevas

Paty said...

I'm glad to see that your church group sponsored the children's party for the "right" reason. Not for the thanks of grateful, poor Mexicans; not to be able to point to themselves that they had done such a wonderful thing; not even to point to one another to exclaim what good Christians they are; but simply from hearts to hearts with the effort being directed toward the children and not yourselves. That's what giving is really about; giving with no thought nor need for reward. Yuh done good and thanks for sharing.

Steve Cotton said...

Wow. That is too bad. A Mexican fiesta without a piñata is -- well, like a Mexican fiesta without a piñata. I always get a kick out of watching the various ages of children take their turn at bat.

Steve Cotton said...

Thanks, Paty. I even thought about not publishing the post. It seemed to be a bit self-aggrandizing. But I had such a good time watching and interacting with the children, I decided to share it.

lauriematherne said...

Your pictures are great! Good job, Steve. And the tale is excellent.

Denkura said...

To the ever-present, "WWJD", umm, Pinata.. Sorry, my Nya no wormy on the Norte americano querty keyboard

Marilyn Cotton said...

I loved your post. It was wonderful viewing the pictures, which depicted the joy of the occasion. The picture of the very young boy and girl dancing is precious. How that little boy could dance or even walk in those shoes ont he wrong feet and much too large is a sight to benold.

There is so much emotion in each picture. We can hear the children's voices and feel their excitement.

I am sure the pleasure of the day was shared equally between your group's effort and those who were on the receiving end.


Sparksmex said...

Nice fotos Steve ... haven't looked at mine yet