As Christmas comes around the corner, I reminisce to my childhood Christmas days, and I will start by emphatically stating that they were not as extravagant as today’s, but they were certainly a lot of fun and everyone eagerly awaited its coming. Let me break it in parts- food and goodies, dressing up, toys, the religious, entertainment and traditions.
You first knew that Christmas was coming when around December 15, you noticed those large salted smoked hams hanging from strings at the store- La Favorita, Fina’s Store, and the Commissary. Around December 20 the apples, grapes and pears arrived on board the Elsa P.
The word went around like wild fire and everyone rushed to buy their stock for the Christmas season. These fruits were considered Christmas fruits and were a yearly treat only to be enjoyed during the month of December. The slight problem was that they were very expensive. Apples sold for 10 cents, pears for 15, and grapes a whopping 50 cents a pound. Mothers also carved out the ball of Dutch cheese which was reserved to be filled with stuffing along with the Christmas chicken cooked Mexican style in relleno negro or chirmole.
Christmas time was a time to dress up. All the young ladies used to go to their favorite seamstresses-Mrs. Olivia Guerrero, Elia Aguilar Guerrero, Micaela Ayuso Nuñez, Anita Nuñez Eiley, and Chabby Nuñez Salazar, while the men had their new pants sewn with Mr. Ramon Varela Sr., Carlos Marin Sr., and Tach Rivero.
With no boutiques in San Pedro, these seamstresses and tailors were kept really busy. Almost all mothers, (no kidding) did some sewing and sewed clothing for their own children. On December 24, everyone was dressed up to the max for the dance that started at 7 p.m. and went throughout the night.
Let’s talk about toys. The three stores mentioned earlier hung up some toys on strings so the kids could nag their parents for their Santa’s presents. For girls there were plastic dolls, paper dolls with dresses to change, tea sets, and skipping ropes. For boys there were marbles, tops, sling shots, pop shot guns & rifles that shot cork bullets, and imported kites, which were “a hit”.
On Christmas Day, early at 7 a.m., the boys would be on the street shooting like cowboys and some of them arguing and fighting because the person they shot refused to fall to the ground. The girls would visit their cousins and friends to compare their dolls in size, shape or whether they could walk, wink their eyes or say “mamma” with a sheepish/goat sound.
Quite an exotic Christmas 25 years ago, right? Part two next week for some celebration and customs.
- by Angel Nuñez, Columnist