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Feliz Navidad Feminista Style

18 Dec Posted by in Monica Palacios | Comments Off on Feliz Navidad Feminista Style
Feliz Navidad Feminista Style

Christmas reminds me of my Tia Nonita.  She was a hardcore Catholic: she had an 8 foot shrine of la Virgen de Guadalupe—in her make up bag. That’s fierce.  So to celebrate the birth of baby Jesus, every year was a huge highlight for this 80-something year old woman—next to, bingo on Friday nights.

I became involved in her navidad rituals because we lived within walking distance of her house that was in a working class neighborhood in San Jose.  She lived by herself in a modest size home, that had a front yard, back yard, beautiful roses, nopales in the back, a dog chained up in the yard and Budweiser beer cans used as planters.  All this was protected by typical Mexicano white wrought iron fence.

At the beginning of my grade school Christmas breaks, I’d help her put up, her plastic snow covered tree, that she kept, in storage in her backyard, in—the cuartito.  For those of you who are unfamiliar with this dwelling, a cuartito, is a tool shed and, guest house—for those relatives on a budget or simply hiding from the law.

Before we got to work, she would make me something fun to eat like tacos out of French fries or my favorite, a Mexican hot dog. She would take a weenie, roll it up in a corn tortilla, fry it, Mexican hot dog—ghetto gourmet.  I loved it.

And I loved her—because she was nice, calm, funny and kooky: she would make little tamales for her cats out of Purina cat chow.  She would teach me folklorico dance steps to songs by, the Jackson Five.  And she had a canary that she called: Tony the Tiger.

We’d put up the tree, decorate it and then celebrate—she’d have her glass of Carlo Rossi Vin Rose and I would have a robust grape soda in a wine glass. We’d sip our vino, smoke candy cigarettes and admire the sparkling tree.

“Mi’ja, we put up this beautiful tree by ourselves, without the help of a man.”

“Yup,” I would reply full of feminist strength, my candy cigarette dangling from my lips.

“Oh and Mi’ja, don’t get married.  Men are burros and they only want one thing: your empanadas,” she would say raising her eyebrows and giving me a knowing look.

I wasn’t really sure what she was talking about but I would shake my head in agreement because us strong women—we stick together.

Tia Nonita, one of the original wise Latinas.

Happy Holidays and Happy New Year!

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