I thought I would escape from the saccharine glee of gringo Christmas traditions by heading deep into Mexico for the holidays.
No such luck.
In the town of Tequila, Jalisco, birthplace of the intoxicating liquor, the hotel TV played non-stop Hollywood films about the joy of the season. With a Spanish overdub, Tim Allen’s soul is somehow redeemed because he learns to derive happiness from decorating his house with an eight foot tall snowman. While the actors who lend their voices to Tim Allen and Dan Akroyd in ¡Una Navidad de Locos! are Mexican, they lend no touch of Mexican realism to the gumdrop-and-sugar-cane film. It’s still dripping with amphetaminic cheer…just like every other U.S. made program that appears on the television this month.
Santa Claus haunts the markets of even the smallest towns of Central Mexico, threatening to overtake and swallow whole the manger scenes that sit in his obese shadow.
I escape the San Juan de Dios market of Guadalajara for a few minutes, stepping into a public restroom to gain a moment’s peace from the holiday spirit. As I sit down to expel some of the toxins I ingested in the town of Tequila, the Muzak begins importing gringo Christmas songs to keep me company. And the worst kind of company. The repetitive, electronica tones of “Simply Having a Wonderful Christmas Time” invades my personal space. This is my most hated of all simply wonderful Christmas songs. The giddy English syllables bore a hole into my brain and disturb the peace of my afternoon dump.
After the holiday passes, I sit on an airplane and head back home, ordering a double shot of tequila from the stewardess. But even this brings me no respite from the holiday cheer, which appears to have left streak marks over everything…even the air travel safety video they play for us. In the video, smiling children pantomime for us the proper procedures for dealing with a crash landing in the mountains. A brown-eyed boy with a toothy grin removes his tiny cowboy boots in order to avoid puncturing his life raft upon disembarking. He stares at the camera and smiles hysterically.
Evidently, not even massive carnage could spoil this child’s Christmas joy.