Friday, December 24, 2010

An Honored "Posada" Invitation for Christmas

For evenings now, we'd been catching glimpses of the local Holiday tradition of "Posadas" in the streets of our town, San Antonio. If I understand the tradition right, on the nine nights previous to Christmas, each street arranges various "scenes" portraying where Joseph and Mary stopped en search of lodging, or the Three Magi or different elements that make up the Christmas story. All the children gather, moving from scene to scene, singing and honoring the different stages. We could tell the devotion and intensity that went into creating these, not only were the costumes 'the very best', mostly authentic but also, they used real babies in the Nativity scenes! The dark haired and skinned children glowed with excitement in their beautiful white outfits and costumes (you don't know how much time I used attempting to get photos of the girl angel with white fuzzy wings). We'd followed some of the streets "Posadas" holding dear the sweet images of these children and various scenes portrayed.

I'm in town doing some gallery viewing and when I call Roland he's more excited than a kid with a new pony!! "I've got some exciting news I can't wait to tell you, hurry home" he spurts!!! It was Christmas Eve and our hostess approached Roland asking if we'd like to participate in our Calle Colon's street "Posada". We asked if more of her "guests" had played a part in the Christmas "Posadas" and she answered, "No". WOW ~ we were astonished ... us white, alien gringos ... invited to be part of the neighborhood's celebration. We didn't know what we'd done ... but of course, we'd take part ... just tell us what to do!

Just in front of the guest gate of our complex the neighborhood women set up a small stage for us. Table with various household trappings, a rug and blinking poinsetteas strung behind with real potted big begonias to each side.

We are to be the first stop on the street and the first place Mary and Joseph inquired for lodging, we'll be "Isabele y Zacarias". I'm just to wear a long skirt and get all ready, sporting my trusty tennis shoes (for ankle support when we later follow the procession down the rest of our street). I need a costume change, "sandals please". Now, Roland really looks the part of an Arab with the scarf wrapping they put on his head and white sheet shirt he dons. Not alot of acting required ... only holding out our hands in welcome. And soon, the procession comes before our little stage. Unfortunately, we can't understand but a few words and just smile our be "welcoming" smile in English. After the singing, they proceed down the street and a few English speaking participants tell us "an Academy Award Nomination, for sure!" But we didn't need any validation ... our lil hearts were just so warmed at being accepted on some level by these gracious, kind people whose guests we are.

The remainder of Christmas Eve we followed the procession down the streets culminating at the church. There was more ceremony with baloons and music and before the endings, we turned and meandered homeward. Streets were a-bustle, sweet bent over g'mas heading towards the church, darling ninos munching candy and ole cowboy-hatted senors gathering on the corners ... we felt at home, quiet in our inner musings.

As we came up our street, we discovered another apparent tradition. The gentle grampa (who lives almost directly across from us, who is daily out watering his lovely narrow garden he's created along the sidewalk, who always smiles and waves even as he's putting up all the Christmas decorations) is now out front his door. And compiled on the street cobble stones just behind his vehicle ... is a campfire!! Yep, right in the street and he's smiling, G'ma's there too grinning into the flames. Every once in awhile he throws a firecracker into the heat and dances around when it explodes. We wave and gently close our gate.

Inside our tiny cracker-box home we put on our hometown live streaming "Christmas Eve Program" and after all the carols we humm along to, the night ends with the diminishing melody of "Silent Night". I wouldn't call it a silent night here, but the well wishes for all our family and friends, and the prayers for inner and world peace are there.

May your holidays, where ever you may be, find you with a grateful heart and attitude of love & tolerance for all. Namaste'


Diane said...

Dear Elaine & Roland,

Thank you for sharing this lovely experience. How delightful to participate in another culture's Christmas tradition. Very special indeed.

We miss you and look forward to your return.

Travel safe and have a very Happy New Year!


Diane & Len

Irene said...

That was lovely, Elaine! Thanks for letting us have a peek at your celebration.