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Thursday, April 8, 2010

My Crazy Mexicans

When I first moved here, to the land where my husband was born and raised, and the first holiday season rolled around, I asked My Copper what his family usually did on this or that holiday. Family traditions, Mexican traditions, Illinois traditions, anything, anything, anything????

At Christmas growing up, we always did the same thing in my house. We opened gifts, got dressed, went to my grandparents' house, ate a huge breakfast, usually cooked by my uncles (It should have been a national holiday for this reason alone...they never cooked.), we opened our gifts there, played with some of our new toys, went home, got ready, went to my Great Aunt and Great Uncle's home, had dinner, and played games that my mother usually worked on. Oh, and we always had to bring a grab bag, but you couldn't buy something. You had to make it! We have some great talented family members and some not so talented ones. There was always the cute item made by the youngest members of the family and, of course, these were always stolen by their grandmothers. And, always, something that we all remember for years like the "thinker" man sitting on a toliet made out of nuts and bolts.

The point is, there was some sort of tradition. I knew what was going to happen. The times have changed and maybe the location is different, but they still do the same things back home. Here in Illinois, I feel like I am in limbo and we are not talking about trying to bend backward under a stick. We are talking about trying to bend backward to create traditions for my children.

In Hawaii, we have certain things that are done on certain holidays. Some of them are related to the island's culture and other things are carried over from Japanese traditions through my family. On New Year's Eve, my grandmother always made Okinawan pig's feet soup. Mmmm, it was sort of like Miso soup with veggies, small pieces of pork ribs, and piggy toes (literally). I never really ate the feet. Your first thought might be that I couldn't handle the thought of pig's feet being on a pig and, when they were still walking around, we all know what they were walking in. Yuck. No, the reason I didn't like them was because they are really fatty and blubbery and (choke) get the picture. New Year's Eve was spent preparing for the next day. Traditionally, you are not supposed to do work on New Year's Day. This meant that most of the cooking was done the night before and things just got heated up the next day when the entire clan would come over. On New Year's Day the food consisted of all sorts of dishes many of which meant certain things. There were items that were eaten for good luck, prosperity, fertility, etc.

So, back to my point, my kids have no traditions related to culture. Heck, they don't even know what culture they are especially as it relates to their Mexican heritage. My kids don't really think they are Mexican. My Little Guy looks like a clone of me and My Girl looks like a combo of both of us. So, one day My Girl and I go to the thrift store. For those of you that know me, you know that I love the thrill of the hunt at garage sales, thrift stores, and flea markets. We find some cute items including a long night shirt for My Girl, brand new with tags. For any of you that have ever walked into a thrift store you all know that familiar is really hard to describe, but I can verify that it doesnt' smell like gardenias or Chanel No.5. Anyway, My Girl tries on the shirt when we get home and walks out of her room to say it fits. She then proceeds to pull the collar up over her nose and look at us (My Copper, My Little Guy, and I) and say, "Hmmm, this shirt smells like Mexican, but not like Daddy."

Of course, My Mexican Copper and I burst out laughing and My Little Guy begins yelling at his sister, "You Crazy Mexican." She says the same back to him. I say, "You're all crazy Mexicans." My Little Guy thought it was the funniest thing. Honestly, I don't think he had any clue what he was talking about. He called me a Crazy Mexican and I informed him that I was the only one in the room that was not and he said, "I'm not either."

He may be changing his name later in life or he may just figure out that he really is half Mexican.

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