I want to wish all of you a very Merry Christmas. I will be enjoying it with my family as we celebrate various traditions, some old and some new. I bid you peace and happiness at this most precious time of year.
Old traditions continued …
Christmas Eve Pajamas – We will be getting our new Christmas pajamas on Christmas Eve so we can wear that night. Now that the secret has been out of the bag for a couple of years (see my last post for the background on that) – I don’t have to run around in the night through the back door to the front door and back before anyone notices!
Joe and Maria The First Christmas … Cowboy Style – I’ve read this story to my son Joaquin ever since he was born. It’s a beautiful version of the birth of Christ by Baxter Black, Cowboy Poet and Former Large Animal Veterinarian! I will read it to Joaquin this Christmas Eve and every Christmas Eve we have remaining. I have the entire poem here at the end of this blog, I hope you enjoy it as much as we do.
Two Christmas Trees – This one is a fairly new tradition. Joaquin gets a little tree in his bedroom and decorates it in the style he wants. This year I couldn’t find a small tree that was suitable, so I got a regular sized tree and had the tree guy cut the top off. That portion serves as my son’s little tree while the bottom portion is our tree in the living room. I put an arrangement of poinsettias on top of the living room tree to fill in the space and act as a tree topper. It sounds strange but it works and we like it! Gives it that Mexican flavor along with the Mexican tin ornaments!
Posole or pozole? – Both versions are correct with pozole seeming to be the preferred spelling in Mexico while posole is used along the border and in the USA. I make pozole every year for Christmas. Joaquin and his mom love it so I make it for them. Pozole is as much a fiesta food as tamales or mole but a lot easier to make in my opinion. I simmer mine all through the night using fresh nixtamal corn along with various parts of the pig including the pigs feet! I use a recipe of Rick Bayless from his book Mexico One Plate At A Time. It’s an excellent version and when I opened the cookbook earlier this week, I had a wonderful memory spring up when I found a hand written version of the recipe in my mom’s handwriting tucked in the cookbook. Beautiful. Memories. Familia.
New Traditions …
Limoncello – is an Italian lemon liqueur that is prominent in the area of the Amalfi Coast. I had some when I was in Positano in 2000 and one day when he’s old enough my son and I will enjoy a glass together in Positano. His mom and I planted a lemon tree in his honor when he was born. We call it the Joaquin Tree. It is as old as he is and provides us with beautiful lemons throughout the years. This year for the first time he is giving me the AOK to make limoncello from his namesake lemons. So a new tradition is born at this most special time of year. I think I will name it Limoncello di Santo Joaquin!
Home Alone – This is one of our favorite Christmas movies to watch together. Tonight, we are going to order cheese pizzas (albeit not from Little Nero’s) and make some popcorn and watch Home Alone. We will watch A Charlie Brown Christmas before we watch Home Alone to bring old and new traditions together! Other favorite Christmas movies that we love to watch include Meet Me In St Louis, Elf, Miracle on 34th Street, and A Christmas Story. We recently sat down to watch the John Wayne film 3 Godfathers and that will be added to our Christmas movie list. The one glaring Christmas movie that we haven’t watched together is It’s a Wonderful Life and so this year we will watch that one together while he is on break from school. And before any of you yell at me, no I have never watched National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation!
Favorite Christmas Songs – Here are some of mine….
We Three Kings – The Jim Cullum Jazz Band from the album Hot Jazz for a Cool Yule
The Nutcracker Suite – Les Brown & His Band of Renown
All the songs from Vince Gauraldi’s A Charlie Brown Christmas especially Greensleeves
Greensleeves – John Coltrane Quartet
The Christmas Song – Mel Torme or Nat King Cole
A Child is Born – Oscar Peterson
Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas – Judy Garland
Here’s the poem by Baxter Black… I hope you take it to heart.
Joe and Maria The First Christmas … Cowboy Style
Now, I ‘spect most of you cowboys have heard the story ‘bout Christmas. How it came to be an’ all, but I wanna ‘splain it so’s y’all kin understand.
It all started with this cowboy named Joe. He’s married him a girl named Maria……..
Times was hard in them days. They’s down to the crumbly jerky and one ol’ paint gelding named Duke. To top it off, Maria was in the family way! They’d been ridin’ several days, with Joe mostly walkin’.
They camped on the trail and Maria was gettin’ tired and ornery. Late one night, December 24th, I think, they spotted the lights of a little burg. It was a welcome sight, ‘cause the weather’d turned coolish.
There was only one hotel in town and Joe offered to chop wood or wash dishes for a room, but they were full up. The clerk said they could lay out their rolls in the livery stable. Git ‘em out of the wind, anyway. So Joe built ‘em a nest in one of the stalls and went out to rustle up some grub. When he came back, Maria was fixin’ to have that baby! Well, Joe panicked! He laid out his slicker, fluffed up the straw and ran down the street lookin’ for a doc.
By the time he got back, Maria’d done had the baby! It was a boy. She had him wiped off an’ wrapped up in Joe’s extra longjohn shirt. Joe was proud and Maria was already talkin’ baby talk to the little one. They discussed what to call him. Joe wouldn’t have minded if they’d named him Joe, Jr. but Maria wanted to call him Jesus. A promise she’d made before Joe knew her.
Maria was tuckered. Jesus was sleepin’ like a baby and Joe was tickin’ like a two dollar watch! Fatherhood had hit him like a bag of loose salt. Just then he heard singin’.
In through the door of the livery come six Mexican sheepherders. They gathered around the baby and said he sure looked good. “Niño especial,” they said. Then they laid out some tortillas and commenced to visit.
Suddenly three fellas rode right into the livery. There was two Indian braves and a black cavalry scout. They told Joe that they’d had a vision and followed a star right to this very spot. Joe said, “No kiddin’?” “Shore nuf,” they said. This was good news to Joe.
Not only that, they’d brought three buffalo hides, two handmade blankets and a little poke of gold dust which they gave to Joe, to use for the baby.
Joe and Maria were overwhelmed. One of the herders tied together a little crib. He packed the bottom with straw and laid a sheepskin over it. Maria laid Baby Jesus in it and He never woke up; just gurgled and smiled.
Then the whole bunch of ‘em stayed up all night talkin’ ‘bout Christmas. Joe never forgot. He did his best to raise his son right and when Jesus went on to bigger and better things, Joe’d remember that night. When a handful of strangers helped his little family through a hard time.
He told Jesus ‘bout it when He was old enough to understand. How just a little kindness to yer fellow man can go a long way. Jesus took it to heart.