Thursday, December 13, 2007

My First Mexican Christmas

In Mexico Christmas is traditionally celebrated on Christmas Eve, December 24th. My first big family Christmas in Puebla was quite a surprise to me. In a house full of relatives I had just met, an 8 month old baby, and very limited Spanish, I was pretty overwhelmed by everything. On the evening of the 24th, I started to get ready to go to bed at around 9 o'clock. Where I come from, you go to bed early on the 24th and get up super early on the 25th to start the festivities. Of course Hubby had not explained anything to me. He asked what I was doing and I said I was going to bed in order to be rested for Christmas. He said, "Uh uh, take a shower, get dressed up, dinner is at midnight." Well thanks for the warning honey! I had already taken cold medicine and had a couple of glasses of wine and was not prepared to stay up any longer but I bit the bullet and got ready. I even tried to help in the kitchen but I was pretty useless and just got in everyone's way so I went back to playing with the gaggle of kids that were there. And had a little more wine.

Around 11ish, we divided the family into two groups to perform the posada song. Half of us went outside with candles to sing, the other half stayed in. The littlest niece was thrilled to be asked to carry the baby Jesus doll to put in the nativity. Once the song was over, there was some praying and lots of hugging and kissing and laughs and the ponche was brought out. I think it was at that point that mi suegro (father in law) finished his first bottle of tequila though he seemed quite sober,he is amazing!

At midnight all 30 of us (yep, big party!) gathered around the beautifully decorated table for dinner. Right when I was about to tuck into the salad, mi suegra (mother in law) said "Oh no, it's your first year with us, you must make a speech". Of course, she said it in Spanish and I only sort of understood. When it was made clear that I had to speak, I blanched and almost threw up! Now, I am a talker, I love to talk, I love to be the center of attention, but this was some serious pressure. Thirty family members whom I had just met, the big Christmas dinner and the white girl has to talk. I fumbled my way through a speech (in Spanish!) and received a round of applause before I collapsed in my seat. I don't know what I said, but apparently I made a favourable impression according to Hubby. We ate bacalao, turkey and all the fixings, some sort of wonderful soup, and a terrific dessert. Suegro tried to get me to eat his angulas (baby eels, an extremely expensive delicacy) but I was having none of that, though it was fun having him try to convince me. I was stuffed full and could only think about my bed, but of course, they weren't finished yet.

With after dinner aperitifs in hand we went to the living room to open presents. It's now after 1 am and I have no idea how anyone is still awake, let alone full of energy! It was pure chaos, paper flying, kids screaming, everyone going nuts over their gifts. Hubby pulled me aside and being the romantic that he is (haha), pulled a jewelry box out of his pocket and said "Here's what you wanted". Ok, I've heard better marriage proposals, but I accepted it. I did force him to actually say "Will you marry me" but there was no bended knee or anything like that. He was really shy about it, I had to get everyone's attention and announce our engagement, which meant more drinks, more kisses and hugs and cries of "welcome to the family". So, having got "what I wanted", I decided to hit the hay, though that was harder than it sounds.

The kids stayed up all night, someone must have slipped some ecstasy in their shirley temples or something. At 6 am I was awoken (ugh) for the pinata and breakfast. We went outside (it was CHILLY) and whacked away at the pinata til it spilled its goodies and we returned to the warmth of the house for a lovely breakfast.

It was a whirlwind Christmas, crazy family, lots of fun and a great introduction to my Mexican family. We were very sad to leave and are really disappointed that we can't go to Puebla this year. We will be having a much quieter Christmas, just the three of us on Christmas Eve and while I know it will be great, there is something wonderful about being with a plethora of loved ones and some chaos that I will miss.

We still aren't married, nor do we have any plans for it, but hey, there's a ring on the finger so we are really only partially living in sin, right?


Anonymous said...

I'm very envious that you're part of a Mexican family and their traditions. This was a great story.

My SO is a gringo like me. *sigh*

Theresa in Mèrida said...

I hate bacalao! It may be why I don't eat much fish, who invented dried codfiah anyway? You are following a grand Mexican tradition, at this year's fair at X'matkuil they married something like 50 0r 100 couples that had irregular status, all the couples had kids, apparently the 100 pesos fee keeps many marriages common law here.
I like Mexican Christmases. I especially like being able to walk down any street in Merida on Christmas day and there is NO traffic, it looks like a Twilight Zone episode.

CancunCanuck said...

Hi heather, welcome and thanks for the comment. Have yourself a Mexican baby and start your own Mexican family, haha.

Theresa, I wish it was only 100 pesos for us to get married! It does end up costing quite a bit with all the paperwork and permissions needed for a foreigner to marry a Mexican. I do love Christmas here, it is a very important family time for everyone and it seems we don't suffer the same holiday madness I remember from Canada.

Susan Lechuga said...

Kelly you make me lol. Living partially in sin made me laugh so hard. I am celebrating my first mexican christmas this year with friends and I am so excited. I wish we could be in cancun with you....

Brice said...

That sounds great. But I can't imagine you being scared to talk.

Anonymous said...

LOL....Kelly I love reading your stories should write a book!!!!! Anyways ...Im am looking forward to having a quiet home christmas ...we will see family the weekends before though. And dont feel bad i have a ring for the past 2 years .....but no wedding plans....although i think i made some headway...because Alberto suggested we go to the courthouse after tax season...LOL

Fned said...


Imagine how I felt when I spent my first christmas at my PIL's and came down the stairs all dressed and made up on the evening of the 24th... to eat soup!

And then next day... when hubby (then simply known as "boyfriend") saw me putting on my jeans and sweatshirt and yelling "THAT'S WHAT YOU'RE WEARING ON X-MAS DAY!?" -uh yeah! I wore my nice stuff last night! :)

Also had a similar bacalao experience that time too... except my MIL served snails!!!! I almost puked in my plate! Still, at the time I didn't know enough french to say "no f*cking way" so I chucked it up and tasted them... and now I have to admit I love snails! :D

Have a great christmas in Cancun this year!

CancunCanuck said...

Susan, have a wonderful Mexican Christmas! I wish all my friends could join me here in the warmth of Cancun.

Brice, I know, hard to believe I was nervous, I am a chatter-freaking-box. But hey, I had the balls to get up and do it (I guess wine and tequila and cold medicine gives me some super special Spanish).

Erica, too funny that your wedding is dependent on tax season, lol! And oh the romance of the courthouse, what a Romeo,heehee. :)

fned, great story, lol! Snails I could do, the eels just looked like what I used to put on my fish hook when I was a kid. ;-)

Theresa in Mèrida said...

I read what you need to go thru to marry in Mexico if you aren't a citizen.The apostile thing is ridulous enough but it is my understand that since Canada didn't sign off on that accord, you have to jump thru even more hoops! You really have to want to do it. Funny, but before I moved here I had an entirely different impression. LOL, funny how that works out.

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