So it all began.. What to wear? My brother playfully said he was planning on dressing like a Lowrider. One uncle said he would be wearing his "Botas Vaqueras" (cowboy boots). My mom and 3 of her sisters (who flew from Indiana especially for the celebrations) drove to down town San Antonio & shopped at La Villita; a market popular with tourists where you can find just about everything Mexican that you would buy in border towns (on the Mexican side). My sister said she wasn't dressing up because she didn't own anything "Mexican".
The real question is what would be considered "Mexican". There are Chicanos, Lowriders, Tex-Mex and a few others that would be considered "Mexican" by the average Caucasian, but none who would be recognized as Mexican across the border (in Mexico). These subcultures if you would forgive the use of the word have Mexico as a root of their heritage, but they are AMERICAN! I could drift off on to a different conversation here, but I will save it for another time.
Back to the Mexican theme party. You may be surprised but most Mexicans in the U.S. (by heritage or immigrated) do not own what many would consider "Mexican attire". It's like living in Texas. Just because you do it does not mean you automatically own cowboy boots or ride a horse. This last statement reminds me of my cousin Gabriela asking if we had a horse after my mom moved us from Indiana to Texas in the early '80s. (My cousin was 10)
|Table decorations from the party|
Anyway, my husband wore a Guayabera (one of a few he owns) to play along and the party was a success. Grandma was pretty happy. There was good food, and even good entertainment! My uncle's new wife is a school teacher and she invited a colleague to come and perform with a children's choir she directs. They sang a number of songs in Spanish and two of the members were singled out. Ten-year-olds who have just come back from a music school competition where they earned high marks. A twiggy boy upholstered in a miniature Mariachi suit belted out tunes over his 20 choir mates and his counterpart towering almost by her entire head (also 10 years) that was dressed in braids, bright colored skirt and peasant blouse sang with the sentiment and maturity of a 30 year old. It was impressive!
There was also entertainment at the end of the evening. My young cousin Sandy (18 years old) with a sweet voice serenaded the birthday girl with a Mariachi group she is a member of. (In the states of Texas and California a few school districts proudly offer in their music department a Mariachi/Mexican style program)
There was plenty of dancing and drinking in between the entertainment and I give my husband lots of credit for getting up to dance despite his stereotype "white boy" dance skills. Between me, my mother and my aunts he was given a pretty good workout, and I am glad I forewarned him. I told him my aunts would most likely try to drag him to dance despite it being their first meeting, and true to form they did!
I am glad we made the trip. About fifty of us gathered (a bit more than usual), all related somehow (even a few in-laws). I pray each year that the next we can gather again for another birthday. I am lucky to still have my grandma; we are very close and she has been my only grandparent for the past 30 years. I am thankful my husband understands how I value these gatherings in her honor and is willing to be part of celebrations.. This was the third of such celebrations he attended and I think after joining in the karaoke singing he will look forward to the next.