This is my pal, Yvón, and I on Christmas Day. Yvón has her left hand extended to keep the riff-raff out of the photograph, the riff-raff in this case being her five-year-old sister, Lucia. It is pronounced ee-BONE, or just Bone for short. Bone is ten years old and one of Fortino's grandchildren. I have written about Fortino many times here and am not going to recap all that. I spent Christmas Day at Fortino's place. During the day it was only the extended family that lives in his little house. As night fell his sisters arrived with their families, and the evening therefore involved the extended, extended family.
I have long invoked the rule of thumb that you tell the smart ones that they are pretty and the pretty ones that they are smart. Of course that is only a rule of thumb. It can occasionally leave you at a loss for words. Then there is that rare young woman in Bone's category. Gorgeous and oh so bright at the same time. I have only met a couple of young women who were brighter than Bone, and they were pretty much helpless. You will have that with excessive brightness in any gender. Bone, however . . . Bone is anything but helpless.
I was not in the mood to take photos on Christmas Day. I turned the camera over to Bone to do with as she wished. She loves to take photographs. I now have 107 of her photographs taken Christmas Day. The following is a selection of her work.
We spent the morning slaughtering and dressing out a hog. When I first met this hog months ago, he was a little pig in the pen adjoining Fortino's patio. I am going to miss him. That is Fortino overseeing the work of his daughter, Isabela, and a son-in-law, Hadin. I wish to assure you that I did my time cutting on the hog.
However, Bone chose not to photograph that. Rather, she chose to photograph me taking a break on my favorite rock having a tamal to hold me.
She did get a decent photo of me slaving over a hot stove cooking that hog though.
The centerpiece for the occasion was not a Christmas Tree. Rather, it was a sort of crèche constructed out of greenery, other plants, and miscellanea. I had no picture of this thing in my mind as we were purchasing the materials. That is it in font of the doors to the house, which are sheets of corrugated steel. Napo is on the roof keeping watch. The birds are in their cage to the right doing the same. Some refreshments are already laid out on the overturned tub.
Here we have the aforementioned riff-raff, Lucia, beside the crèche with her cousin Alán.
This is a detail of the layout inside the crèche. Those baby dolls played a big part in the evening ceremony, which will become clear should you chose to partake of the video.
Bone also shot several very good portraits. Three of those follow:
This is Bone's cousin, Esmeralda, as in the Victor Hugo novel. Esme for short, as in the J.D. Salinger short story.
Another cousin and one of my favorites, Luis Eduardo, with my hat. No nickname. He is always, always Luis Eduardo.
This is the head woman, Fortino's wife, Señora Maria, Bone's grandmother. This imposing, no-nonsense looking lady is actually putty in my hands. Or perhaps I am putty in her hands. Fair to say, I guess, that we are putty in each other's hands.
Bone had never shot a video. She did. While admittedly it is a first effort, in Bone's defense this is not truly a video camera. It is a Canon EOS 7D SLR digital camera that just happens to do video on the side. But the video might give you some flavor of Christmas Day in Colonia Adolfo López Mateos, San Miguel de Allende. We cut it down to six minutes.
Some explanation might add to it. She starts off in the slaughter area. Then she takes you into the house. I take enormous satisfaction in hearing those women's heels clickety-clacking on the floors. The floors were dirt up until a little more than a month ago. They are now cement. I am not buying a door to replace the corrugated steel though. I am at my limit.
The night shots were taken after the extended, extended family arrived. First, there was a session of call and response prayer, very Catholic with a distinctive Mexican touch. Then some of us knelt and rocked those baby dolls, representing the Holy Child, while the others sang and threw confetti. After that we served the sweets, and every one in turn kissed each of the dolls. I found to my surprise that I enjoyed this more than sitting on the couch watching an NBA game. And yes, here my name is Esteban.