Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Day 26: Near New Year's Eve

Ok, Christmas is finally over. We have opened the presents, got a diarreah from all the stuff we had for dinner and a headsplitting hang over from everything we drank. So, what's next?

And here comes New Year's Eve, which is celebrated in many countries, by many people from many cultures, all with a different significance and relevance.

Personally, I believe we humans celebrate this as a time for renewal, for starting again. From the ancient cult of the Sun to the modern Christians, or Muslims or Wiccans or whatever, we all remember this is a time to change, and maybe become better individuals and people.

Every year, we prepare a list of wishes or goals that we want to fulfill during the year to come. How many of them did we accomplish for this year? In my case, just a few, but next year I promise myself there will be more, for my "wish list" won't be so, but a list of goals.

And what will they be? That's a subject for another post.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Day 25: Christmas Craze!!!!

I know it's happened to every body. Here you are, having taken all your provisitions for Christmas, and then... something happens. In my case:

1. Job Christmas Craze: There I was, with no single pending before the holiday, when my boss cancels a trip and asks for an urgent translation... due to the 22nd. All suppliers and clients asking for last minute payments and quotes, and, of course, all my peers asking desperately for help 'cause they were behind with their in-trays. Oh, Dear Lord!!

2. Last minute gift hunting: I had done all my shopping since December the 9th. No last minute calls. But, as usual, no matter what I do every year, up pops somebody else that wasn't in the original list. Last night we went on a tour around Costco, Sam's Club and Liverpool department store, all full to the roof with crazy customers. It was hell! (but I got the presents. Ja!)

3. The lost ingredient - the thrill of the fight: again, no matter how much you plan, how many check lists you go through with your people, there's always a missing ingredient for your Christmas dinner. In this case, my hubby forgot the bread (doh!). We had to kill 3 kids and beat 5 old ladies to get 2 stone-cold loaves. The jungle, my lads, the jungle out there.

4. The missing wrapping paper: I don't know you, but every single year I go to Costco in November and buy at least two 3-mile long wrapping paper sheets. I measure the paper to the milimeter, but there never seems to be enough, or someone in the familiy "forgets" to buy more paper than last year's left-overs. And of course, you comb every single stationary to find... NOTHING!

5. The hideous ribbons: No matter how big the bags are (in Mexico, we buy them by the hundreds in bags), they seem to devour each other in it, so we are always short. This year, we decided to be original, and attach stickers, instead of those little freaky canibals.

But finally here we are, ready to eat through the tempting dinner table, destroy the wrappings of loads of presents, and enjoy sharing all the love in the universe with our relatives.

May all your work come to good fruit, and the blessings of the universe shower on you and your families.


Thursday, December 21, 2006

Day 24: Miracles near Christmas.

Affectionately dedicated to the one and single person who stopped by to comment in weeks.

Although it’s perfectly clear to me that a lot of people don’t believe in God and some other believe too much, I feel obliged to express my joy and surprise regarding how those little miracles, where I like to see “the hand of God”, occur, especially since we are so close to Christmas Eve (only 4 days left!!)

Miracle no. 1: a couple of days ago I was agonizing with thirst, but I was unable to leave my station to get at least some water, and one of my co-workers, out of his generous heart, got to my desk with a nice, freshly squeezed glass of orange juice. Just because.

Miracle no. 2: I’ve been trying for months to find someone going to the States so I can ask them to bring me the new Wii Console, since this is the last time I’ll be able to afford such a purchase for a long time, and nothing. Out of the blue, one of my aunts asked me if I wanted something brought from the States, since she’s leaving next Saturday. Perfect timing!

Miracle no. 3: Today, without prior notice, my boss stepped into the English Class I’m teaching to my peers at my office. Surprisingly, all of them came to class and arrived on time. Considering the absence rate of the last two months, that was a miracle.

Miracle no. 4: my best friend was forced, due to her precarious economic situation, to live with an obnoxious roommate for around a year. Two weeks ago, she came out with the good news she’s been offered a very nice and cheap apartment, so she will finally be able to regain her independence and reunite with her two beloved pet dogs. I felt absolutely happy for her.

Miracle no. 5: unexpectedly, I was able to finish all the pending issues on my in-tray. And my boss will be off the office for one week!!! It’s not exactly a vacation but, hey, it’s better than anything.

I’m not exactly a religious person, and I don’t intend to preach to anybody (I do hate people who do so), but I also believe the hand of God, the Lord, the Almighty, whatever you decide to call that force beyond our understanding, can be seen in daily life.

You may feel sad (as I felt) reading the newspapers today, which bore these horrible, bloody headlines about people killed by drunk-driving because of the “Posadas”. You may question why all the bad things happen, especially during this particular season, but I also try to look around, into the small things, to remember that good things can also happen.

Funny thing is I wanted it to be a happy post, but it went out of my hands, and it almost wrote itself. Anyway, I promise to be careful, not to drive if I drink, and continue with the jolly spirit.

NOTE: This post has been waiting in my PC for 2 days due to the version change. Am I a muggle, or some of these things are really complicated?

Monday, December 18, 2006

Day 23: Only 6 days 'till Xmas

I'm starting to get depressed 'cause nobody comments on my blog. Has anyone noticed I try to write as frequently as possible?

But on a totally different matter, It's only 6 days left to Christmas!!! We have had our Secret Santa at the office and I got my Superman Returns DVD, and the Christmas Party was held at Antigua Hacienda de Tlalpan, one of the most exclusive restaurants in the city. The food was absolutely delicious and more than abundant, since I couldn't finish the main course (!). There was live music and all you wanted to drink, including a superb sweet sparkling white wine for the company's toast. Definitely, one of the best parties ever.

On the other hand, my family held a wonderful get-together, with piñata, prank presents and sit-down dinner. It wasn't exactly like the good old times, when we all exchanged presents, but we kept the good spirits, anyway.

I'm currently looking forward to the turkey and the wonderful apple salad. There can't be Christmas without it. It's part of our family tradition. I hope the menu can live up my expectations, 'cause this is gonna be the last time I'll allow myself to eat whatever I want in any quantity my stomach can resist. Reason, of course, New Year's purpose to go on a diet (well, at least try again as hard as possible).

My wishes to Santa? Keep in good health, get a better job next year, a new Wii console and a couple of days off to recover from all the partying.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Day 22: Wonderful "Posadas" Goofs

In Mexico we traditionally celebrate a series of parties called the Posadas”. They are held from December the 16th to December 24th, that is, the number of days it took Mary and Joseph to travel from Nazareth to Bethlehem, prior to Jesus birth, being the one held on Christmas Eve the last one, when they finally found shelter in the “Pesebre” (“The Barn” or “The Cave”).

The most orthodox “Posada” includes certain rites directly related to the religious origin of the gathering. First, you have to walk around the block in a “peregrinación” (pilgrimage), carrying effigies of the “Santos Peregrinos” (the Holy Pilgrims, i.e., Mary, who is usually depicted riding a donkey, and Joseph, walking by her side), reciting a litany, or prayer, and holding candles. When you finally arrive at the host’s door, all people outside have to “pedir posada”, that is, to ask the “inn keeper” for shelter for the night, with a traditional chant. Although it has been shortened through the years, the “inn keeper” has to deny entrance to the pilgrims at least twice before “recognizing” Mary and Joseph and let them in with joy.

And here’s where the funny part begins, since it’s very common for people to be reading with their chant book in one hand and their candle in the other... right below some girl’s fluffy pony tail. So, you can imagine the amount of haircuts needed during the season.

On the other hand, there are the wonderful, fun and lovely “piñatas”. By now you probably know that a piñata is a sculpture made of macce paper in any form you like which is hung from a rope so people can beat it. The most common ones in Mexico have a base of “tepalcate”, that is, a clay jar, and the form of a star, representing the devil. The parable is that the devil (the piñata) is broken by faith (the cane or log used to break the piñata) and the blessings (the candy and fruit the piñata is filled with) will fall upon the devote ones (the participants).

Taking into account that the person who intends to break the piñata is blindfolded by a “paliacate” (a big, colorful handkerchief), it would only be a matter of common sense to keep yourself as far away as possible from the wielder, wouldn’t it? Well, truth is, it is not.

Every year, people get either hit by the cane straight in the head in this wonderful baseball fashion, by the piñata itself, flying off its string after a good hit or candy bursting unexpectedly out of the piñata during a particularly violent swing of the rope. And it doesn’t end there. When the candy spills out of the piñata, both children and grown ups take the dive of their lives in order to gain as much candy, toys and fruit as possible, most of the times landing one on top of the other. (ouch!)

But don’t start panicking yet. Amazingly, very few serious accidents occur, since most of the time parents and relatives keep a close eye on their children, preventing them from suffering an accident. In my life-long experience, the worst I’ve seen was a bump in the forehead (when the piñata’s belly suddenly ripped off and the falling candy got me straight in the face).

So, if there’s any chance you may come to Mexico, be sure you get invited to a “Posada”, or at least to a “Pre-Posada” (a posada held before Dec. 16th), not only for the folklore, but for all the fun you can have at it.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Day 21: Christmas Folley's... in Advance!

For once, we're not gonna complain, but tell something that's really worth mentioning.

Despite the previous complaints, I must say that there is, in general, a good sense of humor and a ludicrous spirit at my work place, which has started to develop with the season.

It all began with yours trully, who shown up one day sporting a Santa Claus red hat, white trim and all, which caused the whole office to laugh to tears, since I really looked funny with it.

Next day, another co-worker arrived with a wonderful 'Rudolph-the-red-nosed-reindeer' nose prop, which flashed in a fancy red light. Don't ask me where he bought it, but he was the office's sensation of the day.

And today, one of the guys brought in an electric Santa that, whenever you approach to it, sings a song, turns around and pulls his pants down! Although such toys are pretty common in the U.S., we all found it hillarious!

I hope we can keep the spirits up to the end of the season.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Day 20: The usual Christmas stuff

Right before Xmas, people tend to show their worst and their best:

Their worst:

- Mood swings: Ex: 'Why the hell do you take so long to answer the f***ing phone?' while tests were being run on it.
- Secrecy: if we are participating in a gift exchange, why do they wait so long to list their expected presents?
- Selfishness: 'I'm listing everything I'm not gonna buy myself'
- Rancor: 'I'll die if I have to give a present to X'
- More Rancor: 'I'll die if X was designated to give me my present'
- Depression: 'me? at a Xmas party? No way. I'll get too depressed'
- Indifference: 'a Xmas party? what for? They're soooo boring'

On the other hand, I've also seen their best:

- Joy: 'I'm happy because we're one day closer to Xmas'
- Generosity: 'I'll give something to the office keeper. She's been so helpful' (whether that's true or not).
- Forgiveness: 'well, he's been a jerk all year, but it's Christmas, you know?'
- Care: 'oh, you're in charge of the party? Is there anything you may need help with?'
- Enthusiasm: ' a xmas party? Sure, I'd love to go' (and they actually go).

It's just the beginning, and there will be more things to see, but I truly believe the best will best the worst.

Place your bets, people.