Cinco de Mayo... A Little Early
It's the first week of May and that always calls for a little Fiesta with the Quilt Groups. Since I just returned from a trip to Mexico, I was ready on Tuesday, to wear my new dress with the embroidered peacock. The crowd at the Community Center was ready for some fun!
Music of Mexico
We spent a lot of our time focused on music of Mexico. When I noticed that half of the group was singing the words with a recording of Maleguena, it made me curious about how many in our group were actually from Mexico.
I learned that only 3 were born in Mexico, but 2 grew up on the Texas/Mexico border. One fellow was from Peru, one woman was from Venezuela and another from Honduras. A woman who is new to our group was French Guiana, while another new friend was from Puerto Rico! What an amazing mix, all joining in with the music!
I think this is my 7th time celebrating Cinco de Mayo with this crowd. It's amazing to me that so many of the same faces I saw today were the ones I saw years ago. What a devoted group, that arrives daily to the center, for activities, lunch and friendship.
I kept thinking back to a few years ago when I arrived one morning to find the table already decorated and ready for our "Fiesta Theme". Some even brought food to share.
Flags, Blankets and Dolls
Terry was my biggest contributor, this year. Not only did she bring a beautiful Mexican blanket and a doll in festive dress, she brought her own photographs from when she was young in Mexico. Best of all, she had sewn fabric together and gave everyone a Mexican flag to wave.
I often worry if The Mexican Hat Dance is insulting or just plain cliche, but everyone always loves it.
Instead of putting the sombrero on the floor, I put it on the table. There are usually a few that can't stay seated and have to dance, while others play maracas.
On Tuesday afternoon, I gathered with a very different kind of group. We had no one who spoke Spanish or had memories of mother's making tortillas, but we had just as much enthusiasm.
Music again was the key. The festive sounds of mariachis coming through the speakers lifted spirits and got instruments shaking.
Power of Music
We laughed about how the music energized us and one woman reminded us that, music has a lot of power! We talked about how music can lift spirits or even make us sad. We talked about how singing can make working easier or make the time go faster.
At one point in our discussion about music, a dear woman pointed to the tiny donkey piñata and asked, "Is that little donkey lost?" I have no idea where that came from, but I figured we should include her thought. "Well, he might just be lost. Let's just make up a song about that." And we did right then and there. How I wish I had a recording of the funny song our group came up with.
Props Trigger Stories
It's interesting how the table props often trigger memories. A woman in my morning group spotted the hand towel with an illustration of an adobe house.
It reminded her of her grandparent's hacienda in Mexico. "I wish I had a picture of the old adobe house, so I could paint it." She remembered once when her family returned to Mexico and found nothing left of the house, but rubble. Oddly that thought didn't seem to make her sad. "I can remember it in my head!" She reminded us.
Stories of Travel
It was interesting to hear such different recollections of visits to Mexico. Dorothy was delighted to tell about her short visit to Mexico as part of a cruise. Ken said he had a chance to visit Mexico back when he was in the service.
I questioned why he shook his head and sort of frowned at the memory. "I was told about the women... who were eager for the servicemen to arrive!" He laughed. Ken is bright and charming and tall, even though he is in his 90's and in a wheel chair. It made me smile to picture him as a very young man, intimidated by these ladies of the night!
Learning Some Spanish
I didn't have time for "Lotteria" in the morning group. They love the bingo-like game and there would have been time for nothing else.
But the afternoon group studied the colorful illustrations on the game cards and had fun trying to pronounce the Spanish words. What different approaches.
So today, I put on my second Mexican outift. (It's just too much fun to shop in Mexico) and I headed to another group for some Fiesta fun! Only there was no fun to be had.
For the first time ever, I set up the table for a group and nobody came. That felt pretty un-festive! There had been a glitch with the planning. I hadn't been put on the schedule at the assisted living facility. Most of my usual gang was on a day trip and others were involved in another activity. So I packed up my sombrero and all the junk and headed home. That felt strange.
What I Learned: I always feel a little guilty celebrating Cinco de Mayo, since it's really more of a U.S. celebration... an excuse for margaritas. But especially this year, I realized how much my folks with Mexican roots, enjoy the focus on their unique culture. I'm so happy to see how the festive music, bright colors, and the fun talk of food seems to unite us all!
For 20+ years children have called it the Magic Quilt. They've danced and pretended all over these colorful squares. I've dragged it to schools, shelters and studios where children have climbed on top to hear Magic Quilt Stories and to act them out.