Wednesday, December 07, 2005

'Tis the Season

With a distinct chill in the air, the Christmas season has tumbled into Mississippi. My neighbors are busy decorating their yards and homes. Lights, I have to admit, at this time of the year twinkling from a tree or a porch or a door make me feel like a child of wonder again. Our tradition is to drive into other neighborhoods on Christmas Eve before dinner to see the feast of lights. We "ooh" and "ahh" like the children we are inside. There are many grown children who've never tired of twinkling lights and amazing life-like toy animal and human forms that bob and sway to canned carols and popular songs. They are the ones who continue the tradition of decorating for the delight of little ones peering through foggy automobile windows on frosty nights.

In our home there are no small children to celebrate with us, so we decorate minimally. I do enjoy having poincettias in various rooms throughout the house, shouting "Merry Christmas!" Like the two seen here. The reds are my favorites, more traditional; but this year I added the white and the pale red ones. Horticulture has changed the flower from its original form.

One season, many years ago, I arranged a trip to Mexico, for my students of Spanish. We boarded a bus Christmas Day afternoon and arrived 24 hours later in Monterrey. One of our side trips took us into a small village where to our surprise we saw a wall of an old house glistening in the morning sunlight Upon closer look we recognized the red leaves on a vine as our potted poincettias--our first to see it in its original growing form. An impressive scene.

Years later I bravely took another group during the season to Mexico City and to their delight the students celebrated the season twice. Most celebrations in Mexico and Latin America begin religiously in early December, attending church at midnight of the 25th. Then the real time for children begins. Anticipation rises over the approaching visit by the Three Wise Men. In the park our students saw three men dressed in long garments meandering from one child to another. They, as our Santa Claus, were listening to the children's wishes for giftsto be delivered on January 6. The park was decorated with play houses painted in bright colors depicting those in fairy tales. Commercial and retail establishments displayed in their storefronts the traditional layout of the town of Bethlehem with minature houses, animals, trees, roadways. At the top of a hill was the manger scene. Homes also decorate in this theme, adding to the town each year. Sometimes these layouts extend into many rooms .

I'm reminded by former student, Stella, who went on this trip, that at reunions of her high school class everyone says the Mexico trip was their most memorable.

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