I first learned about Christmas and Santa Claus about the time I made it to kindergarten. Chingado, now that I think about it, I picked up all my American holiday knowledge from my kindergarten teacher, Mrs. De Leon; Halloween, el pansón de Santo Clos, y el pinche egg laying Easter Bunny, el Fourth of Your Lie. Bueno, the case was that I was so entranced by the holiday spirit that learning about gift giving and decorating Christmas trees y la chingada became the thing for me. You see, en mi casa my parents hadn’t imparted on me the idea of gift giving, god forgive we might ask for a present, because we were a bit underfounded, in other words broke, and combine that with a little codonés on behalf of my jefito, allí estubo that we would get nothing, not even for our birthdays.
Anyhow, I was knee deep into the holiday that I was seriously concerned, in my five year old mind, with the “how in the hell was the fat Santa suppose to get into my chimneyless house?” Furthermore, to top it off, we didn’t even have a pinche Christmas tree to put the gifts under. So there I was little me negotiating with my father about the benefits of a Christmas tree and Santo Claus coming over, and la maestra telling me to tell my father that it was an American tradition, and all I got was a cold, “ya no estés chingado.”
So in order to increase the chances that el vato barrigón de Santa come creeping into my house one foggy Christmas Eve, I wrote the unforgiving fat bastard a letter, and a good one at that. I requested a bike for myself, a doll for my sister, whatever he wanted to give my brothers would be fine, and of course, a new tortillera (aka tortilla press) for my mother. And for my father, nada, para que se le quite, and teach him a lesson for refusing to celebrate la navidad gringo style. I figured Santo Clos would understand. I imagined him coming across the sky in his one horse open sleigh singing, “♪♪chingo bels, chingo bels, chingando all the way♫” You get the picture.
Well moving forward, in the list of preparations for Christmas night, I endeavored on the location of an available pine tree. Sure enough I spotted one after combing an upscale neighborhood. There it was; little, sitting there all decked out with lights and chingaderos hanging all over it, todo bonito of course planted in somebody’s front yard. Pero ni modo, you have to do what you have to do in order to survive in the barrio. I located my dad’s grape pruning serrucho (aka saw) and went out there one foggy winter eve, y tan, tan…the tree magically appeared in my house decked out in Christmas lights, and shiny chingaderas hanging all over it, looking all bonito. My mother wondered. My father wondered. I concocted a fairytale on how I won it in a raffle at school. You know, raza are big into raffles. It’s low wage gambling, like la loteria, tu sabes.
So by now, I figured the letter probably made it to the North Pole and some enano was assembling it. The Christmas tree was the envy of the neighborhood, todo bonito in front of the window, where I figured el pansón de Santa would not miss it, and then give him access through the window and crawl in cholo style if need be. All this for the lack of a chimney, ¡carajo! I next full proofed my plan and made sure the red outfitted white old ñoño new where my apartment was. I realized then that the project housing complex in which I lived in was not a very inviting place, you know with toda la paisanda, los cholos, la chusma, and the common desmandre de aquellas, somebody would probably end up stealing one of his flying red nose rudolphs or some other porqueria and then he would surely leave no gifts behind. What I needed to do is guide him in by making him think it was safe to land, but how? I had no Christmas lights decorating the outside of my apartamentito and no snow. Well, somehow, someway, I keyed on some lucesitas navideñas en la segunda (aka the second hand store), cheap-0-big-o-bulbs that burnt the skin at the touch. I gathered enough change from underneath the sofases to buy the 12 foot length of lights. My mother was nice enough to help me put them up and hence there we were waiting for el Santa to make his appearance, with a window surrounded by pretty lights, encasing the bonito stolen Christmas tree all decked out con un chingo de colorful bright chingaderos and a star on top. No way Sancho Clos could miss us now.
Finally, just when I thought I had all my ducks in a row; the letter to the North Pole, a Christmas tree, pretty lights, all placed in front of the window, it occurred to me that something was missing. Snow, I needed heavenly raspado action. Where in the hell would I get snow in the Central Valley California? But I did, from my mama’s old refrigerator, the ones that have to be literately de-ice with an ice pick every month. I had plenty of snow now; at least it was snow to me. I laid it out in front of the window that Christmas Eve. Now boy I was ready for el Santo Claus y su sleigh con los reindeers with bright red shiny noses. And now the 24th was here.
Twas the night before Christmas, and all through my little house my mama was cooking and I could smell it all through the house, when what to my wondering eyes should appear, mi tio, mi tia, my primos, los compadres, mis padrinos, los amigos toda la familia, y el borracho de don Nacho con un botella de tequila. We had food, musica, and even did a posada. At midnight we gave each other un abrazo bien dado, we wished each other a Feliz Navidad, estilo Jose Feliciano, and a Prospero Año Nuevo de pilón. Indeed we were celebrating our way and somewhere between los buñuelos, el chocolate, la piñata, and the noise of la tambora (Mexican music) I faded to sleep forgetting all about el gordinflón de Santo Clos.
Even though we received no presents, no bicycle, tortilla press for mom, no visit from el niño dios or Reyes Magos, or Santa Claus, the Christmas spirit was alive more so in our casita. We had menudo para la cruda , my jefes compadres stayed over with the rest of la familia, and indeed all over el campito campesino (aka migrant farmworker project housing) the field working community came together and celebrated the beauty of unity and tradition; the fact that were alive and well with familia for another year was the best gift of all. And as for the Christmas tree, it stuck around till Valentines Day, lit todo bonito con chingaderas hanging off it.
As for el pinche vato pansón in a red suit, he skipped my house, that cabron, and has not been seen since. I think he’s been skipping my house ever since. Go figure.
Feliz Everything to Everyone!
Salud y Felicidad Siempre