My mom and I have a special tradition to kick off our Christmakkuh season. For the last 6-7 years she buys us tickets (right up front) to the annual “Merry-achi Christmas” show by Mariachi Sol de Mexico under maestro Jose Hernandez. It’s our special mother/daughter time. My mom and I may look alike but when it comes to our musical tastes we are total opposites with the exception of mariachi music.
My mom loves to tell the story about how even as young as three years old, I begged her to buy Linda Ronstadt’s mariachi cd: “Canciones de mi Padre” and how I would sing the songs for hours. My favorite was “Y Andale”- a traditional style drinking song (below).
As with every year, the concert moved us to tears- we sang along until we lost our voices, and we bonded. In addition to the Sol de Mexico group playing, Mariachi Reyna de Los Angeles (grammy nominated and the first US all female mariachi) played. These women sang every strife, heartache, and love I’ve ever known in moving traditional lyrics.
Afterwards, we were able to meet and greet with the two groups as well as los Solesitos (the younger mariachi group including two of Jose Hernandez’ children), and the Grandeza Mexicana Dance company. It was so humbling to be among such talented musician’s that keep these beautiful traditions alive with the voices and instruments of angels.
My mother of course wasted no time telling one of Reyna’s that I was a classically trained violinist for 12 years and how much we enjoyed the show as well as how we will continue our annual tradition for as long as they play. My mom told her all about my three year old story begging for my mariachi cd and how this was our special little event. She was kind enough to invite me to check out one of their Thursday rehearsals and my mom was just beside herself. I haven’t seen her so excited about my musical potential since I fiddled my way through Fiddler on the Roof for my high school senior solo. Somewhere in a cedar chest my mom has video evidence of this. I’m convinced it’s biding it’s time to make an appearance in some highly embarrassing manner.
And while this might not seem very ‘Hanukkah like’, in our inter-faith family, nothing says family & tradition like music. Our Hanukkah is filled mariachi music to give an ode to my mom’s Mexican side of the family and my special latkes are infused with jalapenos.
In addition to lighting my Advent candles to honor my Catholic side, starting this Saturday I will also light the candles of the menorah my great-grandma Rose passed down to me to honor my Jewish side. While Hanukkah and Christmas are seen as lesser religious holidays by both faiths, celebrating both holidays is one of the more beautiful memories of my childhood and traditions we keep alive and well.