Friday, December 17, 2010

our first posada

River and I attended our first posada and I think I’ve found a new holiday tradition. I hadn’t heard of the Mexican tradition of posadas until I saw this one advertised. But a Mexican woman I spoke to there told me it’s a major tradition where she comes from. It is meant to recreate the process of Mary and Joseph seeking lodging and it ends with a celebration. She said that where she comes from, a block of attached houses are all occupied by various relatives, so people will go door to door along their block, acting out the ritual with their family.

It was so much fun! Everyone was given a candle and we carried the lighted candles as we walked from one site to another, recreating the scene of Mary and Joseph looking for lodging. At each of the three sites, we sang and some people pre-planted at the sites sang back.

I told River we were looking for a place to sleep, which he didn’t seem to understand entirely. But he didn’t care much, as what just-turned-three-year-old wouldn’t be thrilled to be allowed to carry around a lighted candle? He loved watching the flame dance in the breeze and being allowed to share his flame with others whose candle blew out.

After the singing was a party with hot chocolate, sweet tamales and tres leches cake. Then came the best part, heading back outside to break two piñatas. River was thrilled to be able allowed the opportunity to swing at it, though his gentle touch didn’t so much as loosen a strand of crepe. But when some older kids broke the piñatas, he liked scavenging for candy.

There was only one other little girl there as young as he was, and the fact that he didn’t look Hispanic, but spoke fluent Spanish, attracted people’s attention. Everyone was very nice to him and several children offered him candy that they had collected from the piñata.

The other three-year-old, a Mexican child, was a friend of ours, who attended River’s birthday party last year. We hadn’t seen her or her family for almost a year and I had on my long to-do list to try to call her mother. I was wondering how they were doing.

It turns out they went through an immigration nightmare and had an order of deportation against them. They have been in the country nine years, both of the children were born here and they are kind, hard-working people. The ordeal began in June and it was just that day, the same day as the posada, that they went to court and the judge allowed them to stay until the spring of 2012. Hopefully that is enough time for them to get things in order.

The mom almost cried as she told me this. She said that November was the worst month of her life, that she had been depressed, and that the court order was like a weight physically lifted from her. I didn’t have the chance to ask what she was thinking of doing with the kids, but I imagine she considered leaving them here, and can’t imagine the pain she must have gone through to imagine being separated from them. It made me sad to know they had suffered so much over the past months.

I know the legal fees were a great hardship to a family that didn’t have a lot to start with. But I was grateful for the encouraging result, glad that the children could sing and clap and dance and chase the candy, not afraid that they or their parents would be put on a plane and sent to a place they had never seen before. I’m glad they will remain in our neighborhood and be River’s friends and classmates.

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