Wednesday, December 12, 2012

one and a half ladies

Mexico does not do things by halves.

Well, there is the question of construction.  But let's set that aside for the moment and talk about what Mexico does best.  Celebrations.

I regularly eat at The Red Lobster in Villa Obregon.  Not the cheesy chain of chewy seafood that blights The States.  This is a family-run place. 

And it is always a pleasure to eat there.  The food is consistently good.  But it is the family that makes the place a joy to share my custom.

On Monday, I was invited to attend the sixth birthday of Jennifer.  The daughter of my favorite waitress.

I felt my stomach knot up.  Children's birthday parties are on my list of "things to do when I have been drugged and hog-tied."  But it was not an honor I could decline.

My first difficulty was finding a gift.  For boys, I can buy.  For girls, I am at a loss.  But a very nice store clerk convinced me that I should give him 220 pesos and he gave me, in exchange, a boxed doll with enough ball gown changes to broaden Dame Edna's smile.

Jennifer loved it.  And I loved the party.  It was not a children's birthday party.  It was a birthday party for a child with only adults present.  My idea of a perfect get-together.

Just as we were gathering, the nightly parade for Our Lady of Guadalupe passed by.  Jennifer was enthralled that the event had come to her on her birthday.

One gift Mexico has given me is a broader view of faith.  My Protestant upbringing caused me to look at such celebrations as the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe with a bit of skepticism.  As if the worshipers were somehow directing their worship to an object rather than to God.

My blogger pal Joanna over at Writing in Merida has written about the emotional impact the celebration has had on her.  "It is very moving to witness the affirmation of their devotion and the basic faith that sustains them through many hardships."

She then noted: "[A]ny belief that comforts and consoles is a very positive and good thing."

I am not certain I would have agreed with her four years ago.  I do now.  Both Mexico and my friends, the Moodies, have helped open my eyes to what is going on around me.

Jesus taught us two great commandments.  To love God with all our heart, soul, and mind.  And to love our neighbor as our self.

I now see the love and devotion accorded to Our Lady of Guadalupe as another way of showing God our absolute love.  Just as Jesus taught.

For too long, I failed to see that connection.  And it was getting in my way of loving my neighbors’ faithfulness.

Mexico has many lessons for all of us.  This has been a very important one for me.

Even when it comes in the guise of a six year old girl's birthday party.


Robert Carter said...

Bread and circuses. If Mexico would only address its hardships and entrenched problems with the same vigour it does its celebrations it would be a better country. All levels of governments seem to throw lots of money at festivities. Since I've been down here I've witnessed Halloween, Day of the Dead (lasted 5 days), Caribefest (5 days), the day of the Revolution, and the Guadeloupe parades. That was in 6 weeks!
For every event mothers must spend time and what little money they have on elaborate costumes for their kids.
It seems that these feats eat up much of their income that could be going to better food, education and medicine but hey...who wants to spoil a good party ?!

Felipe Zapata said...

Photos of cute kids trump dead dogs any day. Keep it up.

John Calypso said...

Gotta go with Felipe on that ;-)

The Mexican celebrations are a very complex issue. I certainly can agree that a happier spirit and attitude helps get people through tough times. And there are plenty of tough times to go around right now - so bring on the party!

Steve Cotton said...

The fact that Mexico's economic growth rate outstrips the rate in The States and Canada is a pretty good indication Mexico is doing something right. Who can beat the combination of an expanding economy combined with a joy of life?

Steve Cotton said...

We do our best to please a multitude of tastes. But I think cute kids will always win out.

Steve Cotton said...

Mexican Catholicism is a complex issue in its own right. I am learning to see it for what it is.

Robert Carter said...

The problem is that your average Mexican doesn't seem to be sharing in the expanding economy.
As in Canada the economy can always be spun to look good thanks to creative accounting.
But bring on the fireworks and balloons. Viva la fiesta !

Steve Cotton said...

Adding a middle class that constitutes 40% to 50% of the population has been an amazing accomplishment over the past two decades. Most of my Mexican neighbors live modestly. But they have automobiles, televisions, and cellular telephones, as well as a roof over their heads and food on the table.

My American friends would call most of them poor. They aren't. But the economy needs further growth to bring more Mexicans into the middle class. No matter what class they are in, their faith is solid.

Andean said...

From the photo, it looks like you made that little girl very happy. She will treasure the gift you gave her forever. I passed my Barbie doll, on to my daughter, and I know it's still around, waiting for its next owner.

Steve Cotton said...

She was happy. Especially with those heart-shaped sunglasses that came with the doll.

Shannon Casey said...

Well said Steve! The cutie with the sunglasses is akin to the little ones NOB who get an expensive gift and prefer to play with the box that it came in.

Steve Cotton said...

I was surprised at her genuine joy.

Laurie Matherne said...

I enjoyed this post. I am glad that I have learned to soften my edges a bit in regard to differing branches of Christianity.

Steve Cotton said...

I was brought up with Fox's Book of Martyrs on the coffee table. Fortunately, I have discovered that Matthew's gospel has far better life guidance.