Sunday, December 19, 2010
Guadalajara Christmas Market
In mid-November a Christmas market sprouts up behind the fruit and veggie market in the bric-a-brac neighborhood of Santa Tere, a few blocks from my house. Waiting until November to haul out the tree trimmings and nativity figures is a show of great restraint for Mexicans. The encroachment of ‘all things Christmas’ that clogs the aisles of every department store, grocery store and neighborhood tienda, begins its take-over in SEPTEMBER in Latin America. For the past three months, a 10 ft. inflatable Santa Claus has greeted me at the Costco entrance.
I have always felt sorry for every other country in the world that does not have the "Thanksgiving Buffer”—the holiday stop-gap that keeps marketers’ decency in-check until the last Friday in November, saving us from months on end of Christmas music and creepy elves pushing products. But, due to experiencing the magic of Christmas through the eyes of my 2.5 year old, my feelings are shifting and I couldn't wait to whore-up the house with Christmas glitz this year. This is the first year that I have wondered why I can't have a Christmas tree glowing in the corner while we celebrate Thanksgiving.
However, we held out until all of the Thanksgiving leftovers had been eaten, and then hauled out the box marked, “Christmas” and set off to pick out our tree.
The market fills an alley one block long. Venders sell lights fit for a show on the Vegas strip-- ribbon, ornaments and all sizes of figurines: kings, camels, horses, plants, etc., for a nativity scene. (Nativity scenes in Mexico have agave cactuses- the plant tequila is made from- and the devil—is that normal?) Oh, and of course, there are Christmas trees: pink, white, brown, and real.
The scene is a sharp contrast to my childhood memories of Christmas. No one is tapping the snow off of their boots in this temperate climate, no need to keep a hot steaming toddy to your lips to prevent icicles from growing out of your nose; the urban grit is a world away from the spacious Christmas tree lots of the Chicago suburbs. But really, this little alley could be a scene in any Santa loving country: red and green, gold glitz, sparkly glass ornaments, plastic mistletoe, miles of garland, and the bustle of families stuffing shopping bags and wrangling evergreens. Looking around, I realize Christmas has a solid brand, at least from where I am standing, the aesthetic is pretty universal.
It’s beginning to feel a lot like Christmas…..