Happy ThanksMas: Paisanos, Posadas and Party People
Another holiday season is here upon us, and with it have arrived the long lines at the international bridges and the jam-packed crowds at the mall that makes shopping unbearable. Also, it's the season of endless posadas and a flooding of champurrado that brings smiles to even the most hardened Scrooges. Still, as much as I love this season of joy and giving, it seems that every year the Christmas season is extended and exploited further and combined into a two month extravaganza.
All around my subdivision, some of my eager neighbors have already put up their Christmas decorations right after Halloween. Turkey Day has not even passed and they are already looking forward to Santa. To them, it seems as if Thanksgiving and Christmas have been combined and intertwined into one mega-sized holiday that I call "Thanksmas". Even retail stores, in their greed and savvy business tactics begin to push all their Christmas items in mid-November. But what is all the hurry? Why don't we take it one holiday at a time? That way we can savor each holiday for what it is. They are not interchangeable and both have wonderful elements within themselves.
Still, things such as "Black Friday" and "Cyber Monday" seem to turn the season into nothing more than an empty and soulless materialistic grab-bag in which we, as consumers, seem to be bamboozled by the big media, into robotically attacking the malls in hordes like the zombies in Romero's Dawn of the Dead. Surely there is more to the holidays than buying senseless gadgets and spending hours of dead time in a mall and running around like ants in a rainstorm. But, don't get me wrong, I understand fully the need of buying and selling for our economy to remain robust and healthy, still, it seems that in the process we have to sell our souls to corporate giants that turn the importance of Christmas (xmas?) into sales, receipts, gift cards and mark-down prices.
That brings me to my next point. The stores get so jam-packed with shoppers that one has to be insane to go to Mall del Norte, Wal Mart, Target etc during this time. Good luck even finding a parking space. And here locally, half the shoppers are Mexican nationals, and its to such a degree that if you walk into the Wal-Mart on I-35 you'd think you were in Monterrey! A quick glance at the parking lot reveals that a huge percentage of our holiday shoppers come from south of the border from states such as Nuevo Leon, Coahuila, Tamps and even Guanajuato. That Wal-Mart in particular (I-35) is perpetually in a state of total chaos and the other stores nearby such as Ross and Kohls are inundated by busloads of thirsty Mexican shoppers. To say that we need them is an understatement. Without these Mexican shoppers, the Laredo economy would be in the toilet. Still, it seems to drag all the fun out of the holidays having so much traffic from the passing paisanos on their way to the Mexican interior and the long lines at the stores by the frenzy of shoppers seeking imaginary sales.
However, I refuse to let this destroy my holidays. Thanksgiving has passed and gone. Now we can safely put up the Christmas lights and focus on that glorious holiday (whatever it may mean to you). We can attend all the posadas from work and friends and the tamales and champurrado is sure to fill our bellies. But in the end, after we exhaust our bodies and our wallets with half-off sales, and after we survive the relentless amounts of local and foreign shoppers, all that is left is the spirit of a simple yet brilliant holiday. Christmas. With all its trappings and its seeming facade as a day of religious observance, it still remains a magical and absolutely triumphant season. The warmth of family and friends and the spiritual bond that Christmas brings cannot be found on the shelves at Best Buy, but only in the heart and soul of each person. And that my friends, in a time of chaos and rampant empty materialism is something worth celebrating.