By Leza Warkentin
September 15 is coming up on Sunday, and it’s time to make plans for ringing in Mexican Independence. Our family’s celebrations always begin at school the Friday before. Our school, ASPV, has always done a great job of including the students in one of our biggest events of the school year. We gather as a school community in the common theatre area and transform the space into a wondrous sea of red, white and green with traditional costumes and colors. There is always a reenactment of El Grito, and the students perform folkloric dances. It’s impossible not to join in the flag-waving when all those earnest little people begin to shout “Viva Mexico”.
This year we have also decided to go as a family to the plaza to participate in El Grito on the 15th. This is a Really Big Deal because normally I do a lot to avoid letting my kids stay up late. You might think that this is going a bit far and is really rather Canadian of me, but I imagine then that your kids are capable of sleeping past 6:30am on a weekend. Mine, I promise you, are not. If they go to bed at 8:30pm, they awaken at 6:30am. If they go to bed at 11pm, they awaken at 6:28am. The 8:30pm children wake up smiling and chattering, and I can mutter back almost coherently while I finish my first cup of coffee. The 11pm children wake up with a great deal of animosity toward life in general and their parents in particular, and the coffee doesn’t reach the part of my brain that can actually reason.
However, we are going to let them stay up for the fireworks for the first time ever, because this year they are aware that I can easily delete their Club Penguin memberships and that doing this will certainly bring me some caffeine-free cheer at 6:29am.
Also, they are fascinated by the history of Mexican Independence, which is something as a parent and a teacher that I sort of think I’m supposed to encourage. They ask me every year about Father Hidalgo and the bell. And, every year, I tell them to ask their father because I think he should be in charge of All Things Mexican (and, also, I confess that I have trouble remembering even my Canadian history. It will take my very best effort just to make sure they know who Jacques Cartier is if they ever want to know).
While I certainly love my Canada Day with all of the neighborhood barbeques, the maple leaf face paint and Family Fun Days, it cannot hope to match the ferocity of pride that you experience when crammed into the small plaza at 11pm along with a lot of other red, white and green folks who are also making as much of a racket as possible. I’m trying to imagine us Canadians on July 1, dressing up in sombreros and wearing our ammo Emiliano Zapata-style and I just really can’t see it. But here, that’s just one of many ways to show some national pride.
So this year, we will head on down to the plaza on Sunday night and eat some good food, watch some fireworks, shout until we pop a chord and become a part of it all. And I will set my coffee machine timer to kick in at 6:28am on Monday morning. Maybe we can all meet at 10 at the Charro Parade on the Malecon… we’ll be right in front of Starbucks.