Sooo.. is it beginning to look a lot like Christmas here in Guadalajara? Beats me… haven’t paid it much attention.. I guess it is. I see some Christmas lights up here and there… a lot of nativity scenes. Some in fact go all out, covering their entire front patios with a miniature, hilly, wooded landscape, meticulously dotted with the complete set of… who counts? – some 14 to 290 Little Town of Bethlehem action figures. Many of them have even got little Luciferito himself, you’ll see, out there lurking around in the tall grass, and you ask yourself - What is that little red bastard up to?
I used to make rather breathtaking setups like this when I was a kid, at any time of the year. Of course it wasn’t common to have little plastic humble ancient middle easterners, but I did have the army men that came 20 -30 in a pack, and some cowboys and indians of the same sort. I would set them up just like these Christmas scenes and then shoot them down from across the room with rubber bands… cheap thrills. What else was I to do? A couple of my friends already had an Atari, and though I fervently wished for one, I created the best fun I could with what I had. I also had some of those little.. lego men, which had the enhanced feature of sometimes shattering if you hit them just right.
Never did get the bloody Atari… nor any Nintendos later on…..
Some homes and businesses down here do the Santa thing. Other people can’t stand the jolly old guy, often darting their eyes in my direction as they spew forth their grievances against northern yuletide aggression. All I can do is shrug my shoulders. I mean, he’s not my fault… he’s not even gringo – everyone knows he’s from the freakin’ North Pole.
One thing that many northerners don’t consider, however, is that the further south Santa goes his image begins to change, as he tends to shed the bright red overcoat for the warmer climate. Plus, none of the houses down here have chimneys. The warm, fuzzy Santa that we’re all accustomed to tends to rub a lot of people the wrong way when he’s stripped down to his wife-beater shirt and has to carry a crowbar around to get into the households that forgot to leave their doors unlocked for him… That kind of crap’ll take the ho ho ho out of just about anyone.
On the morning of the 25th, at about the final pre-dawn hour when gringo kids up north are all leaping excitedly out of their beds, we here in Mexico are about to collapse onto ours. We’ve been partying and playing music all night, having long since opened presents some six or seven hours earlier, if we got any… Maybe we’ve been eating pozole, maybe turkey.. or carnitas… or perhaps tamales.. everyone does their own thing, be it with punch, tequila, or coca cola… milk.. whatever.
At the end of it all it’s back to life as normal, action figures back into the darkness of the closet and Christmas trees abandoned and destitute along the roadsides.