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Assaulted by the American Christmas Machine?

December 17, 2017

I went to Mexico to find Christmas, but not the Mexico of enchiladas and beaches and pina coladas and white jacketed-waiters.  I crossed the border at Eagle Pass with an eclectic group of people in a van owned by the Mision de Candelilla pulling a trailer stuffed with boxes of gifts. The destination, twelve hours further, is San Vicente, at the end of a long dirt road on the wrong side of the river. It is in the heart of the Chihuahua desert, a place too poor for the word poverty to really mean anything. The people of San Vicente live in houses strung out along a politically impassible border, people lost in the shuffle, people dealt hands of isolation and hard work and meager belongings and cold winters and hot summers and not much electricity and no phones or internet. People with little connection to the outside world.

Were we were sent on this mission by the zealots of the American Christmas Machine? Was our task to export the craziness of our “holiday season” to those dark skinned and politically unpopular people? Was our trip to make sure they said “Merry Christmas” instead of “Happy Holidays?”

No, our mission was to share el amor del Dios, the love of God. Other good people bought the gifts and put them into the plastic boxes; I just helped to deliver them, one family at a time.  After each of the 35 families received their gifts we put out a dinner of sausage and beans and potato salad and fruit cocktail.  I cannot tell you what they think about the gifts or the meal; I can’t read their expressions, and I don’t speak enough of their language to count. They are shy, perhaps, and maybe they don’t know what to think about all this, and why we care, and why we keep coming back.

I keep going back because I am thankful.  Thankful that in this place I am not constantly assaulted by the American Christmas Machine. Thankful for the people in Fredericksburg United Methodist Church who thoughtfully buy the gifts and subsidize the trip. Thankful for the selfless Mision de Candelilla folks who have the connections and the resources to get us there.  Thankful for the time without connection to the outside world and for days of quiet. Thankful for the harshness of the land, the inevitable cold weather, and even for the outhouses. Thankful for nights so dark I can’t pick out the Big Dipper from the cacophony of stars in an impossibly crowded sky. Thankful to know in some way these people whose lives are so different from ours

If the American Christmas Machine is driving you crazy, support Mision de Candelilla with your time or money, be a gift donor through Fredericksburg UMC, maybe even make the trek with us next year. Whenever the assault by the Machine threatens to overwhelm me, I go back to the Chihuahua desert in my mind, and smile.

From → Writing Fiction

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