Monday, December 23, 2013


Christmas memories
Are like the ornaments
That I have hauled around for dozens of years.
Some are fancy
Others are tarnished

I take them all out each year.
It can be exhausting.

However,one memory stands alone.
The Christmas I was nine months pregnant
Living in Oaxaca.

The streets were lined with lights and poinsettias.
Flooded with tourists.
And everywhere,
There were  nacimientos (Nativity scenes)
Tiny and life-sized
Simple and elaborate.
Mary and Joseph
Angels and lambs
And empty cribs.
No Baby.
“Where’s the Baby ?”I asked my friends.
“The Baby isn’t born until Christmas”,they said.

With my big belly,
I could have been popped into any Nativity scene.
I looked, as my New York friends said
Like a “Living Noguchi.”
I felt as if filled with helium
And indigestion.
I understood why all those Madonnas in religious paintings
Have their hands placed under their breasts and on their bellies
Looking so pious.
They were actually trying  to push down their indigestion.

In Christmas Eve tradition,
All the churches sent processions to the Cathedral in the zocalo
Little Marys and Josephs
On donkeys
On floats
On foot
Cradling their curly haired Babies.
Guarded by angelitos
With sparklers.

From cane towers
Homemade fireworks
Lit by someone’s cigarette
Whistled into the sky.
Exploding into a bright rain of color.
With each boom,
my baby jumped in my belly.

I feared contractions
And birth.
It is tradition in Mexico
To name your child after the Saint on whom’s Feast Day they are born.
I said to my kicking belly. “Please,baby,not now or I will have to name you Jesus”.
(Frankly,it’s the only time my child ever did what he was told.)

Church bells
Sang out midnight
And the Baby,in every church,in every home,
Was placed in His crib.

I happily waddled home.

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