By Jim O'Leary
An e-mail newsletter for and about Waverly people, used with permission in the HLW Herald and on this web site.
Dec. 16, 2002
Latin American Christmas posadas remain part of culture
"Every year during Advent, many Latin American communities re-enact the story of Mary and Joseph arriving in Bethlehem to find no room at the inn.
"In processions, called 'posadas,' they move from house to house in a parish or a neighborhood in search of welcome. Modern migrants, on the move in search of safety or survival, find the same closed doors Mary and Joseph encountered.
"Too many die or are exploited as they try to cross borders. Along the US-Mexico border, communities of faith gather in December for posadas that draw attention to the plight of immigrants trying to enter the United States."
From Maryknoll Magazine, December 2002.
I have always been lucky in my friends, starting with Waverly, of course.
I consider myself very fortunate to claim Dr. Gary MacEoin, a journalist and a universally respected expert on Latin American affairs as a friend.
Since he now lives in San Antonio and I live in Corpus Christi, we are practically neighbors. I have his permission to publish excerpts of his Christmas letter:
"Some 35 of my neighbors, well padded against a bitter wind, set out on foot this evening at six o'clock in the first of this Advent's Las Posadas ("the inns").
"To the accompaniment of two guitars and a flute, they sang Christmas carols and hymns in Spanish, as they walked for an hour with Mary and Joseph seeking a place for an imminent birth.
"Turned away from house after house, they are finally welcomed in by Dee Sanchez Galvan and Don Marengo, who live two doors from me. I, no longer able to walk more than a block or two, joined them there for food and entertainment that lasted several hours.
(Aside: Dr. MacEoin turned 93 last June.)
"There should be more communities like this in the United States and everywhere. In existence more than two decades, it is racially and religiously mixed, Catholic, Quaker, Pagan, Presbyterian, Atheist, and Mennonite.
"The core group consisted of people concerned about Latin America, starting with Peter Hinde, a Carmelite priest, and Betty Campbell, a Sister of Mercy, whom met in a Christian base community in Sicuani in the altiplano of Peru.
"Some had been in the Peace Corps, others in Witness for Peace in Nicaragua, pastoral workers with displaced persons in El Salvador in the 1980s, Sanctuary activists here in the United States, or Catholic Workers.
"We all knew each other, so we all moved into the same neighborhood here in San Antonio. We find solutions to each other's problems. We have a pickup owned by four of the households, but available to move children, furniture, mulch, whatever.
"I am a particular beneficiary. I drive the pickup to the local supermarket, but no longer venture on the city's system of highways, which I am convinced was planned by people who hated automobiles."
Dr. MacEoin goes on to remind us that life remains grim south of the border. His little community in San Antonio does all that it can to make immigrants welcome.
People by the thousands are forced to come to the United States, either legally or illegally, in order to send money home.
Only those people with family members in the United States have any chance of rising above starvation level.
Our Waverly Christmas caroling had no posada overtones, because we were welcomed at every house. Down here in Corpus Christi, the posadas are great. They even use a real donkey with a real pregnant girl on board the donkey.
On a lighter note, he sent me this Tex-Mex parody on "The Night Before Christmas."
'Twas the night before Christmas and all through the casa, not a creature was stirring. Caramba! Que pasa?
Los ninos were all tucked away in their camas, some in vestidos and some in pijamas.
While Mama worked late in her little cocina, El Viejo was down at the corner cantina.
The stockings were hung with mucho cuidado, in hopes that Saint Nicholas would feel obligado
To bring all the children both buenos and malos, a nice batch of dulces, and other regalos.
Outside in the yard there arose such a grito, that I jumped to my feet like a frightened cabrito.
I ran to the window and looked afuera, and who in the world do you think that it era?
St. Nick in a sleigh and a big red sombrero, came dashing along like a crazy bombero!
And pulling his sleigh instead of venados were eight little burros approaching velados.
I watched as they came, and this quaint little hombre was shouting and whistling and calling by nombre:
"Ay, Pancho! Ay Pepe! Ay Cuca! Ay Beto! Ay Chato! Ay Chopo! Ay Maruca!, y Nieto."
Then standing erect with his hand on his pecho, he flew to the top of our very own techo!
With his round little belly like a bowl of jalea, he shruggled to squeeze down our old chiminea.
Then huffing and puffing, at last in our sala, with soot smeared all over his red suit de gala.
He filled all our stockings with lovely regalos, for none of the ninos had been very malos.
Then chuckling aloud, seeming very contento, he turned like a flash and was gone like el viento.
And I heard him exclaim and this is verdad, "Merry Christmas to all and Feliz Navidad."
This Christmas season I have received many parodies of this classic poem by Clement C. Moore who passed away in 1863, but I think this is the most clever one I have seen.
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