Going to the Top of the Mountain

One of the highlights of my year is going to our church’s bible conference. Asi es, we make that long 6 hour drive, ending with a winding mountain top, all for us to hear 17 seminars/sermons, aimed to keep us on the straight and narrow. Pero es más que eso

It is a mountaintop retreat for me. A week away from the hustle and bustle at home, a time for just Ben and I. I’m not that girly girl that likes to dress up, I don’t care for all the hard work of  primping, but I do like the end results when I stand in front of the mirror, que guapa! I drink up all the nuggets of truth and inspiration that fill my mind, heart and notebook when I sit and listen to each seminar. The Donut break and afternoon break gives me that wonderful opportunity to reconnect with old friends and when I’m feeling bold and confident, I step out and make a new friend. Sabes que? Conference time makes my flaco such a social butterfly, this man of few words, goes around getting to know his brethren! It makes me kinda sorta jealous of him and for him. Then there’s the updates, I love them! The missionaries we send and support all around the world, come home and share their experiences. They pass the mantle to men of those nations; nationals, who carry on the vision. I’m not a world traveler, but hearing the various accents, seeing the cultural attire while listening to glimpses of all those supernatural things that God is doing around the world helps me see the incredible thing I’m a part of. 

My fellowship ( Asi es. Zepedas, maybe Mexicans across the board, tend to appropriate everything they are attached to. Something very personal happens and we must declare it with “my” well because, it’s mine) CFM Ministries; Christian Fellowship Ministries- a Pentecostal movement born during the Jesus People revival. One small struggling church in Prescott Az. grew to a network of thousands of churches worldwide with a mission to preach the gospel. Bible conferences bring our churches together for a time of refreshment and renewed vision. 

 The highlight of the conference at the end of the week is to hear the announcements of new churches going domestically and internationally. Ves, for me it is so very personal, because in 1983 a couple rose to the challenge and came to San Diego to start a church. Just the couple and their kids, we call it “pioneering”. I was ‘born again’ in 1984 after hearing the message of salvation and because they went there, into my city, I’ve had this anchor all of my adult life.

Almost 40 years later, besides my church, our fellowship is over 20 churches strong in San Diego. This January conference, 7 international works were announced and several domestic works around the U.S. Gloria a Dios! Me atrevo a decir, God is advancing his gospel message around the world. Announcements were made for Samoa, Sudan y por supuesto, I was excited to hear 2 announcements of churches into the heart of Mexico.

Y sabes otra cosa? Besides all the excitement of new churches and new christians, I have my own personal turning points. Milestones that happened while I absorbed the full conference experience. 

  • It was at one of my first conferences on a nice Arizona warm desert day that I broke up with my Flaco, because in this Jesus People culture, dating is intended to lead to Gods institution of marriage! Hijole! I felt that marriage wasn’t for me, at least not until I was very old, like 30. Pero, as soon as our relationship ended, I began to wonder if  marriage could be blessed? Indeed! I know now, after 33 years with my Benjamin, that in Christ, a marriage covenant could be prosperous, even when our traditional culture and color was so opposite. Gracias a Dios for my patient cold blooded Englishman from the East Coast, he learned how to roll with this feisty latina woman from the West Coast. Y yo? Well learned how to be still…. mas o menos 😏 
  • It was at a conference that Ben was approached about his little girl and this time he wouldn’t say “she’s too young”. In a twinkling of an eye she had entered that grown up stage of life. Dating, whirlwind and marriage. Is it ok if I tell you that nobody warned me about that part of parenting, you know when you must release your child. Hijole, it was hard, you lose a part of you for a season.
  • Pero! Then came the conference that another turning point came. El gran dia that I turned the corner and became an abuela. It was a bittersweet day, Maricella was supposed to wait until I got back from the conference. I would be ready to receive my reward. Pero, instead she arrived early we welcomed her into the world via facetime and she welcomed us home! Ahora, We, Apa and Ama have 8 little gems. I have forgotten the days I thought I lost my children, my hands are full again.
  • It was at a conference during the exciting time of announcements that we heard a very personal announcement. “Out of San Diego Ca. into Bonita Ca. (also a community of San Diego) Jon & Denise Greene.” My heart swelled with delight at the very idea that my hijo and his beautiful helpmeet would be pioneering a church. In my heart I’ve always held a special place for the pioneer pastor who willingly leaves behind his steady grounded life to go to regions beyond. Y para que? To preach the message of the gospel to individuals like me, some broken, some empty, trying to find their way in life. Y ahora, my son is out preaching and teaching. Mi hijo, el pastor. Hijole! Maybe he’s gonna get a “Rosie” in his church?
Pastor Greene and his proud Mexican-American Mama

Sometimes, especially in these 2 years with the Covid invasion, my faith has been challenged and I’ve had to stand when I’m too tired. It’s a  spiritual connection with a supernatural God who loves me, us, who graciously refills our vessel through his word. Por supuesto that this connection also happens at home alone during my devotions, or when I go to church. O ya sabes, God is with us always, pero, at conferences I am stirred when I see what God is doing all around the world for any willing and open heart. It’s catching a vision of hope for the lost, and for me. Lost men and women who are restored and go back into all the world to rescue a soul.  CFM Bible Conferences, quizas they sound dull or boring, but they are a lifeline to me. I love what God does through them.

A Resolution to Resolve


Now that all the Christmas decorations are put away, estaba pensando…Yup, usually when I say “I’ve been thinking,” it’s because a change is needed or a change is wanted, or something has got to happen! Being the new year of course I feel the pressure of that clean slate, that “2022 organizer” Y pues, gracias a Dios that I’m in 2022, otra chansa! 

The word ‘Resolution’ has all kinds of formal definitions in the world of dictionaries, mira, Cambridge dictionary had one definition in these words “A promise to yourself to do or not to do something”  On January 1 I truly felt the motivation,saw the need, felt it in heart to get things resolved. I make a thoroughly long list of things that must change, things that must go and things that need revamping. Then, as if someone yanks my “New Years Resolution” list away (me)  it gets lost early in the year. Usually by February, I’m purposely forgetting it, filing it away or throwing it out. I continually fall off the race track, fiercely hanging on to somethings on that list. 

La verdad es que, they’re pretty much the same recycled goals. Ya saben, I gotta let Jesus shine in me, I gotta lose weight, I gotta get organized,I gotta finish that degree (heavy sigh and rolling eyes) y I gotta get my book published! 

This year, otra vez, I did re-resolve my new/old list of goals, hopefully this year my “accountability group” will help me stay on track. (That sounds so clinical huh?)  I guess the positive side is that I haven’t stopped trying verdad? Y! With gratitude lenses I see that many things have seen resolution through the decades of my life.

I enjoyed the way this blogger summed up the year and quotes for seizing opportunities:   

Notes to Self at the Start of 2022 — Mitch Teemley

You’re still alive–there’s a reason for that. Get to it! “I’ve got to admit it’s getting better, oh, so much better all the time.” ~Paul McCartney (“It can’t get much worse.” ~John Lennon) “Thank u, next.” ~Ariana Grande “Don’t be afraid to go out on a limb — that’s where all the fruit is.” ~Frank Scully […]

Notes to Self at the Start of 2022 — Mitch Teemley

2021 Recap ¿Aprovechaste el Año?

It’s the last day of the year, incredible! (I started this post last year, 24 hours ago, hijole!) Every time another year comes to a close, I look backward and forward, and all the cliche thoughts pop up. I could have done that thing I wanted to do and I should have made that change that was so desperately needed. All of the what if’s tug at me. Y por su puesto, the goal markers come marching in. Next year is gonna be different. I’m gonna do things better and bigger. I will get…I will do… I will be…Esperate!

 It’s early evening and that part of the last day of the year is also passed on. Que bueno, because tomorrow, I think I’m supposed to reconfigure my goals, verdad? For Christmas, I got a very efficient planner and desk calendar to aid me, I’ll keep you posted.

Pero, instead of sharing goals or making resolutions, I’ll share the notables of the 12 months of 2021.

Mexican-American Girls 2021 Recap

-En Enero, after covid obstacles we were able to bury my apa. we needed that finality and then I closed that chapter of my life with my apa with a grand finale. My sis and I honored him with a beautiful memorial service, 96 years can’t be captured in a 10 minute video of course, pero mi hijo did capture his Tatas good side 😀 I also got a chance to spend time with 2 of my brothers. 

-Luego en Febrero- Ben and I always take advantage of our annual Valentines Day/Marriage seminar tune up. Always a good reminder that we enter into marriage two very selfish individuals and as we persevere we are converted…con el favor de Dios of course

The valentines day photo booth also works for photos with my nietas!

-March came marching in with birthdays galore, mi hijo, mis nietos and mis buenas amigas-I would catch my breath and then ready myself for the next cumpleanos, I spent a lot of time en la cocina.

-No April fools jokes lurked around the corner to surprise me, well actually one did and it turned sour. “The Real Ben” he’s really the little Ben, anyway he played a cruel joke on me way back then, and I’m barely able to laugh about it. He made me think I had cracked a bone in his neck!! Imaginate my fear, I layed hands on him praying, then when I saw that he was laughing! I layed hands on him with my foot! These are the things my boys, muy chistosos! Do to me!

-Eventually I recovered and forgave him enough to accept his gift for mothers day, muy victima que me senti.

-In June Ben got his glory time for fathers day, I got an incredible deal for a kayak, I’m trying to be that good wife after more than 30 years and trying the things he loves to do, anything thats connected to the ocean.

-July gave me an opportunity to go to our annual summer bible conference with my sister.  It was her first experience and what an experience. Our fellowship of churches are pentecostal with a vision to see lives changed through the message of the gospel. Once a couple is transformed by Jesus and has vision, they will get sent out somewhere in the world to make disciples. These bible conferences are opportunities to fuel up on God’s spirit and vision. 

Our own little church has that vision and this year we sent one couple into Mexico City for their missionary assignment, covid no longer detained them. By “sent” I mean we backed them financially, we are there for them as they build a church. We launched them and they are thriving! Luego, we sent a 2nd couple into Detroit Michigan, these San Diego natives are acclimating to the cold weather of Detroit and breaking ground as they build a congregation of believers.

-August came around and I realized that I could pick up my school books again, so I did. I’ll be the oldest graduating college student in the world, pero, I am really hoping to finish this race, did you notice I didn’t say quickly 😀 

 -September always kicks our celebration season wide open, birthdays and anniversaries. We kicked off the season with Bens 59th birthday (my Flaco is kinda tripping “Yikes! I’m almost 60” thought reality) Just before this party I was able to squeeze in a trip to Nogales to visit my dear and beautiful friend. Somehow God always helps me make a way to strengthen the cords of friendship. Then just before Daniellas birthday I squeezed in a trip to the NorthWest to celebrate a marriage covenant, my besties son got married.

-I never let my birthday in October go by without a bang, and this year was no exception.

-Our 3rd Benjamin was welcomed into the family on the day after Thanksgiving and we rejoiced at the ease 😀 of it all. I tell you, Abuela status is the way to refill that empty nest for short moments. They always go home to momma. 

-November also marked un ano for It has been running at a good pace all year long, bueno, more like a good walk. November also brought my dear friend home from a long battle against covid. Those difficult days were insulated with the prayer of the saints, her church family contending for her. When the doctors gave up, when we were too weary, Jesus was always there with her. Gracias a Dios.

-I told you all about my December days already, except of course the sick bug hit me, it snuck in a quick punch and wanted to topple me over, but like Nacho Libre, I was quick on my feet and in my stretchys avoided the knock out! I was able to wish my loves a Feliz Ano nuevo at midnight as the clock marked a new year.

Now it’s a new year and of course I’m hopeful. I’ve got goals, I’ve got plans and I’ve got work to do!

I do hope and pray your Ano Nuevo is one filled with peace, you know that kind of peace that keeps you steady when chaos is erupting? I’m also believing that this new kind of normal will bring heart changes and restoration into broken lives. Y tambien, I hope that this new normal will provoke new avenues for progress for us all.

God bless you everyone and “Carpe annum” Seize the year, don’t let it seize you!  

Wrapping up Christmas

This past week has been like a whirlwind, like for many people out in the big wide world verdad? As I’ve finished those last minute errands in this Covid Era, I know, tagging it like this sounds muy exagerado, but it has been an extreme time. I sat in some parking lot traffic yesterday and it reminded me of the congestion and busyness of Christmases past, call me loca, but I was grateful for the feeling of “back to normal” as I impatiently waited for traffic to move along. The lines were just long, not very long and masked folks were all around, as I waited in line I thanked God for Christmas time.

We are  wrapping up our season with some fun jolly times. Last week on the 20th we commemorated our return to our annual tamalada by remembering my apa. For over 20 years my cunada and I have built a true friendship, pushing aside the lies and insecurities of “inlaw phobias” and God has given us a blessed friendship. We have established a very informal but set in stone tradition of working hard at Christmas making tamales, I was so glad for our day together with our girls. Tamales de puerco, de pollo, de res and my amas sweet tamales. Tamaladas are lots of work, hijole, I’ve always denied myself the opportunities to learn the secret of the masa but I had no choice this year, my hands went into the masa. Tamaladas are lots of talk, hot on the topic list was the fact that although covid separated us, it actually brought Sandra a new helper, mi hermano! Hector says it was a one time deal though. In the end when it’s all said and done we reap pots of tamales. Life circumstances, like “apa watch” hindered our tamale tradition and covid completely blocked it in 2020 but this year tamales prevailed and the time was extra special.

Last night we squeezed in our Scrooge Dinner Party with our dear friends, the Alsobrooks. Heavy sigh, once upon a time they were the ‘Octopuses’, but then Thomas learned how to say their name correctly. Our dinner party consists of three parts: dinner, a white elephant gift exchange and then regular gift exchange. This year was a tight squeeze, since aside from covid, regular nasty little viruses were jumping around making people sick and keeping them laid up in bed. Our family party was smaller since some were sick, but we prevailed and the show must go on, we chose to enjoy and appreciate our yearly tradition. Oh what a great time we had.

 Having girl friends that I can trust has been so comforting  through the years, pero imaginate when our families connect and there is true friendship across the board of parents and children, hermoso! Last night we decided to make breakfast for dinner, so that meant Ben’s popular sourdough pancakes. We impatiently waited for everyone to arrive so we could entrarle a la comida, digging into the food as if we were ravenous. Hay si, maybe not ravenous but hungry, borderline, ‘hangry’ the shopping and wrapping had us madd.

How do I describe our scrooge exchange? The rule is to spend as little as possible, Bah HumBug! Of course we all struggle to figure out what we could bring that’s clever and stealable. One person brought brake pads…used with a hidden gift card and another brought a used gift card😎 with a balance of $7.40 left on it. Ben chose a gift that had a puppy in it, hijole! Thankfully his barking and whining had an off button. Thomas stole a sausage that also had a water hose nozzle, ya se, and it got crazier, but it was lots of fun. We ended our night with cleanup but only after we had a wrapping paper wad fight, where in the world did all grown ups go?

Here I am today, Christmas Eve with wrapping left to do. Tonight we’ll go to Christmas Eve dinner with more friends and come home to get the last three items on our Christmas countdown: Ben will prepare the sourdough mix and bring in the wood for the fireplace tomorrow morning and we’ll all wait til just before midnight, to help Santa Clos bring all the gifts. Now that the kids are all grown up, we actually have to wait for them to get to our stockings and gifts…Asi es, as we get older we sleep less.

Merry Christmas to all, may you be blessed on Christmas day and on. God bless you Everyone!

Guest Post: ‘Twas the Morning of Christmas (a short story by Mexican-American Girl’s daughter Daniella)

‘Twas the morning of Christmas and all through la casa, not a creature was stirring except Emery and Lala. Little brother Emery had tiptoed into Lala’s room. He knew she’d be up. 

“Do you think we can go out to the living room yet?” Emery asked.

“No it’s only 5:43, let’s let them sleep will 6:30” 

Lala was organizing her little pile of handmade and dollar store gifts that her 12 year old budget could muster together for her familia. 

“Do you want to go take a peek?” she whispered. Emery nodded eagerly.

She was thinking about a certain box she had seen under the tree. Mom usually didn’t put gifts under the tree before Christmas Eve. This helped reduce the temptations that came with waiting until Christmas and it increased the magic on Christmas morning. But this box was from Tia Patty. The small cylinder shaped box could only be one thing. Never before had she done this, but she shook the box to make sure. A mixture of guilt and sheer joy exploded inside. The sound of small plastic butterfly clips shaking together in the plastic container confirmed that Tia Patty had gotten her exactly what she wanted. 

Emery’s big eyes were excited and waiting. 

“Ok,” she said, “let’s go!”

With their arms full of gifts to add to treasure under the tree, they tiptoed down the hall.

“Wow” It took their breath away. The morning was so quiet and peaceful. For those few minutes, time seemed to stop.

Every year it was the same, but every year it was a bigger surprise. The lights were twinkling on the tree, the fireplace was stacked with wood and ready to be lit, and the presents. There were so many  presents. Where or how Mom always managed to hide all of these presents until the night before Christmas they never knew, but they always knew that late into the night on Christmas Eve, Mom and Dad were busy preparing. They couldn’t remember ever truly believing in Santa Claus, the magic of Christmas created by their Mexican-American Mama, was more than enough. 

“Let’s let them sleep for ten more minutes,” Lala said. They added their little gifts to the hearth and tiptoed back to Lala’s room. 

Christmas Spirit Lives On

Now on Christmas morning there are too many stockings for the mantle to hold. All of the nietos and nietas come to Ama’s house to experience Mexican-American girls Christmas magic.

Emery & Lala

Pause the Christmas Countdown

I know that Navidad is just around the corner but I couldn’t keep it to myself, de veras, I tried. I don’t usually post outside of my weekly schedule, it’s rare when I post in the middle of the week. Pero, it’s my apas first big celebration in heaven. One of the epistles of Peter says kinda like this, mas o menos “ Remember this, with the Lord a day is like 1000 years and a 1000 years are like a day….” So, I think essentially we don’t age… and I remember that my 96 year old apa didn’t want to get old, God heard him huh?

This post is my birthday shout out to my dad, acuerdense, I love a birthday party. Mi apa is no longer suffering from dementia and he can remember us all. 

Feliz Cumpleanos apa, disfrute su alivio. Saludos a mi ama y mis hermanas!

It’s Not Too Late to Send Out a Christmas Card 

Remember the days of snail mail? Like I’ve said before I love getting a letter in the mail, unless of course if it’s from the phone company or the utility company, sheesh and even those are rare nowadays. Pues, certainly at Christmas time business picks up for the post offices everywhere, verdad? Have you mailed your Christmas cards yet? Maybe you pressed the send button and got them out to all your fans? Esperate! Maybe you’re like me, and you’re waiting for your order to come in because you decided to jump on the “photo card” Christmas train. Dare I ask if you’ve even taken that special foto yet? Hijole, it can turn into a race against the Christmas countdown verdad? 

The Christmas Card tradition began for me after I got married. I think that embedded into the matrimony duties is duty #1000 “work on sending out a nice Christmas card each year.” I shopped carefully. The card had to be nice and sweet, but not mushy. Most important was getting a great deal with my budget. Es que, in those early years, when we exited military life, regular paychecks came to an end, and my flaco went from a sailor to a painter’s helper. Our pocket book was quite tight. Christmas wasn’t minimalized but our pocketbook was stretched for sure in the merriest season of the year. The nice card was personalized with an update on our year. Some of the Greene’s modestly send a “brag letter” where nice pictures with updates on all the childrens shine is displayed. I took my time filling our loved ones in on our happenings through our year, que social media ni que nada! Words can paint a good picture, hijole! My hands hurt after all that writing. The envelopes were sealed, stamped and sent, que facil verdad? Then came the era of photo cards, y ahora, a picture is worth a thousand words.

Mis amigas have shared some of their similar experiences with photo cards and although it’s a battle, it must be worth it, because we do it year after year. 

Photo by Monique Prado

How to survive the Christmas Card sleigh ride: 

  1. What will we wear? Colores navidenos? Would that be red, green and white? Or silver and blue? Gold and silver? Maybe it should be formal colors? Black and white? Will it be casual or dressed up? Must we all match? The Greenes, we never match and our “dressed up” is our Sunday best, no glitter or bling. 
  2. Who’s gonna be in the picture? Immediate family? When is it no longer immediate? Maybe just the abuelos and the grandkids? Que bonito verdad? Ben & Rosie and our growing beautiful brood. When that is settled, let’s set a date to take a picture. LOL right? The last few years have been just Ben, me and two youngest representing the bigger picture.
  3. If you get to take a family picture, wonderful! For us, the pictures I use are the planned and unplanned ones. Like when we’re at an event and we look like we’ve combed our hair, usually mi hijo Emery will say, let’s take a pic and use it for Christmas. After several Emery approved shots, where he is positioned correctly and looking smooth we save them for the end of the year. Creeme, it saves me a lot of trouble. Pero, if and when you gather the kids for a pic, then you will face the next hurdle. Keep the kids clean and make the kids smile. Denise, my nuera says that Rachel tends to always be moody, emotional, and they always get several pics with Rachel’s frown. This year, con mi nieto Jeremiah, he’s two and can be terrible, I have implemented a strong voice and said “Jeremiah! You need to give me a happy face right now”. And it works! He does it, his frown turns into a smile. That is a 2021 milestone.
  4. Y ahora, if you survived the picture, you need to order your Christmas card, if you’ve been diligent you won’t be in my place, waiting 6 days for my order to come in, hijole!
  5. I’m almost at this final step, and honestly it’s about my usual timing. Oh the fun of stuffing, licking and sealing the envelopes. Is a return address really that important at this point? My fingers get stiff from writing. Acuerdense, I’m an abuela now, even writing can be slower!

I have my highlight cards, like the year before our family grew, with inlaw children and grandchildren. It was hard for me to release my adult children to their future spouses. Change is always incredibly difficult for me, I am learning that in God’s hands changes and seasons are laced with grace, growth and love. We took a silly pic under our tree that year. Then, there was the Christmas card that declared our new status: ‘los abuelos’. Y mas reciente, are our Christmas cards that included my apa. I’m so very thankful for all those years. 

I love receiving all the beautiful Christmas cards and filling my christmas board with them. I do have a small album of Christmas cards of the years gone by. It is pretty amazing to see cards with my friends and their kids, chiquititos and then fast forward and have cards from those same kids all grown up. Yikes! Como pasan los años.  Christmas cards are a wonderful treasure to have. 

En Conclusion:

It’s not too late, 14 days til Christmas. Send a Christmas card with beautiful tidings or a Christmas photo with happy faces, like Jeremiah gives on demand and have a wonderful Christmas time.

Christmas Decorating the Mexican American Girl Way

21 Days til Christmas

Feliz Navidad! We have entered into the Christmas season and I have seen all around me some scurrying about and preparing, hopefully for a wonderful time. O quizas for some, it’s just a busy time or a sad one. Te comprendo, in Christmases past, I’ve had my share of busyness and my portion of sad losses. With Covid hovering about, it can kill the Christmas joy so we must resist the oppression that tries to creep in. Set the stage, pullout all the stops, bring Christmas into your home, rejoice! and again I say rejoice.

Be Merry and Decorate

On 511 E Delta Street, adrenaline would run high, anxiety would peak until our decorations were in place. We’d pull out our fake Christmas tree, covered in ‘snow’. We had to  insert all the branches, hang the shatterproof ornaments we had and sprinkle the tinsel all over the tree, this was done without mother supervision, so you can imagine the beautiful tree. Something about decorating our arbolito, covering our front door with Christmas wrapping paper and flicking on the foquitos so they could shine bright on Delta street. Ahora si! The season was official. Now the adrenaline of anticipation runs over. I can’t remember if Santa Clos got the credit for our gifts, I don’t think he ever did, you see, we didn’t have a chimney. Besides, somehow every year on Christmas Eve we knew our presents were in the trunk of the car.

Ahora  en mi casa, it still makes a difference to decorate. Por favor, don’t misunderstand me. I’m not talking about a Pinterest perfect Christmas, not country, not vintage, not rustic or traditional red. I’m definitely not talking about a glamorous and glittery style or girly Christmas. Hijole, I don’t think my Christmas stilo has a name. 

The day after Thanksgiving Ben drags in the ladder, climbs up to the attic or mejor dicho the crawl space where we store our Christmas collection and he pulls out box after box labelled Christmas. Mira nomas! The San Diego Greenes have some very valuable  relics. I don’t believe I can put a price tag on my kids’ kindergarten ornaments. I loved showing my funny looking “lightbulb face ornament” to my granddaughters and seeing their surprise when they heard that their daddy made it, de repente, it wasn’t so funny looking.

Then there’s my “ugly bear” who faithfully comes out of hibernation for his Christmas shine. This ugly bear was christened Ugly Bear when I wondered where he came from and why he was still around. 

“Lets get rid of him, ” I said. 

“I bought him for you for Christmas when I was little mom, but you’re right, he is ugly, you can get rid of him”  He was not a little indignant, the sting in his voice made me want to  run and hide.

Shame! Shame! Tsk! Tsk! When a mother is not appreciative of a gift from her middle son. Suddenly that hard plastic osito feito was beautiful and valuable. 

Valuable Decorations

That’s how my decorations shine beautifully, nothing really matches, everything is old and faded. There’s a wealth of homemade crafts that carry me back to Christmases of long ago. My snowman print kitchen window valance. My dear friend Raquel and I worked together on these while my little Thomas sewed his own Christmas mat with a lopsided santa. These are worn but they carry weight. 

We have a very old and serious looking Santa who is teamed up with very old and fragile reindeers. They stand regally on the secretary, or maybe now they stand feebly since a few have toothpicks for legs. They used to belong to Ben’s parents who got them from their parents, hijole! Santa barely makes it to town! 


Then there’s my snow globe collection and my Nativity collection, both were a tradition started by my sister Patty. Some of my globes have lost their water, their beauty and their music. One little tiny one doesn’t even have its’ glass dome, it shattered a couple of Christmases ago, technically it’s not a snowglobe anymore, but that tiny samurai struts amongst the snowglobes. My Nativity sets are ceramic, wood and plastic. Somehow after 3 generations of Greenes I have one surviving piece of a nativity, a walnut shell cradle with baby Jesus sleeping in it.  Ves, pulling out the decorations reminds you of what you had and have and can have in Christ. Decorating for Christmas is not an easy task to accomplish, for a long while the house looks like Christmas exploded upon us. My artist son, with his critical attention to detail, arranges and rearranges everything, but when it’s all said and done, we know it’s official, Christmas has come. Right here I will confess a great infraction on my part, I thought I would get stoned that night in September when the kids discovered that my “all year round mistletoe” was gone!! And that I had replaced it. I believe my niece Sierra is still recovering from the shock and working out a forgiveness plan for me. Having learned a hard lesson, I am scrambling to replace it and vowing that never ever will I remove the mistletoe that hangs in my dining room during my watch.

 Going into our house at Christmas is fun for the grandkids and heart accelerating for me. This past week they walked into our house and were so awed by Christmas, same old decorations but they are still stirred by them.Then, just as strongly they get anxious to decorate their own houses, they want Christmas to visit them.  Meanwhile, I’m back and forth, que si, que no when it comes to all those little hands handling my Christmas decorations. Last year my outdoor snowman didn’t survive, he was lifted by the arm one too many times, and I’ll never know who the guilty culprit was. We had to put him to rest, he served his family well.

Again I say, Feliz Navidad. What is your Christmas decorating style? Bring it out, let it shine and be glad. 

El Amor De Los Abuelos

It’s Thanksgiving week, de verdad que, it’s a good time to see God’s hand at work, he leaves his fingerprints all over our lives. I’m getting old you know, I know you can’t tell …Pero, with more than 5 decades of living, I’ve got some good living experiences under my apron. Imaginate! Soy abuela. Not abuelita or grandma, pero  D’ma or Ama . One of my greatest pleasures is that Grandmother title. How can I describe it? 

It is a daunting time when your first baby is placed into your arms because he wants to nurse, demanding his hunger to be satisfied. His well being, his provision, protection, shaping of his character and his prosperity is in your hands. In that moment all you can think of is calming down a screaming baby and from that point on every one of your senses studies and learns that child and the ones to come. A realization is born that what I do matters, mother bear is on alert. Pero, when that welcoming door to grandparenting opened wide for me. I never would have imagined how that mixture of parent and Santa Claus molecules transfer into your mind and heart once you see that little part of you. That pregnancy announcement is a thrilling chemical reaction to new grandparents!

As a child, I never did experience the love of a grandparent. Mine passed away long before my existence. My apa did give me a tiny pinch of what my grandparents were like, where sometimes I might even see some of my abuelo Angel or my abuela Rosarios genes in us. I have often wondered what life is with a grandparent nearby and accessible. My kids had their Tata mostly in his older years. I do remember how crazy with love my ama would get when her grandkids were near. “Que cosita fina”, she’d utter as this fine little delicate thing laid in her arms. It is an amazing wonder to experience. Almost as if a whole new well of vibrant love is dug up in the land of my inheritance, just for a grandchild.. 

Thanksgiving day is a hustle and bustle day in the kitchen for me. Starting with Ben’s sourdough pancakes. This Thanksgiving was no different except that my apa wasn’t with us and I missed him. En la cocina, I was busy cooking, enough for an army and cleaning to make room for the next dish. Ben led us in prayer, but before that he thanked God for me. Then we prayed my apas prayer and Ben remembered the Greene family prayer too. Now, we could pounce the counter top where the feast lay unawares. I enjoyed my familia, then I stayed on my feet til not a creature was stirring, I dropped into bed sometime before midnight, sweet sleep until the clock struck midnight. A text, then a call from my son, “looks like it’s time Ma, can you come?”

Immediately I was alert. I calmly got ready, making sure I had the important stuff, coffee and Daniella’s pumpkin cookies. I was in my car within 20 minutes. Hijole! No gas for the 20 minute drive. Pues hay voy, getting gas at 1 a.m. before getting on the freeway. It was a smooth drive but Jonathan and Denise were already in their car, he was calling me, I was 5 minutes away. I:53 a.m. After a brief check on Denise, calm and focused, they were off. I quietly went into the house to laydown with Jeremiah. This 2 year old uses a whole king size bed! Twenty minutes later I asked if all was well. “She’s at 7 centimeters” Wow! Yet I dozed off anyway. Jeremiah stirred, reaching for his momma, touching my face in the dark as his little body got close for a snuggle. Yikes! His little hands didn’t recognize me and he sat up and peered in the dark, I kept my eyes closed. Oh how I wanted to comfort him. I felt so sorry for my little grandson. Los Mexicanos, or maybe it’s just the Zepedas have this saying, along these lines “te va a tumbar el burro muy pronto” Which means, you’ll no longer be “king of the hill” or the baby of the house because another is coming. I wondered if little Jeremiah could know how his life would change, especially as he was going from baby to big brother in a matter of centimeters. Jeremiah was studying the situation and his surroundings, probably wondering how his D’ma was in the bed. He looked around and after a while he said, very sleepily 

“Hi Ma” He was calm. He seemed reconciled with the situation and I was relieved. 

“Mommy?” He said. 

“She went to get the baby.O.k.?” Like it was the most normal thing to do. Maybe it is? Her water bag broke at midnight and she had to go out in the dark to get her baby.

“O’tay” he quietly responded, like he wasn’t surprised.   He seemed reconciled with the situation and I was so relieved.

He sat there for a long time, his head heavy with sleep, but he did lay back down and we both had a moment of sweet slumber before I heard the door rattling open. Que?!

“Jonathan! What happened?”

“Didn’t you get the text I sent Ma?”

I looked at my phone and there in my phone, laid my 8th grandchild in his fathers arms. “Que cosita tan fina” He had come into this world just before 3 a.m.

For her 5th delivery Denise had chosen to have her care and delivery at a birthing center; Best Start. Mi hijo didn’t know what to do with all the holistic and natural techniques! He’s used to the clinical methods of the hospital 😀 

“Do you want to get in the tub with her?”

“Do you want to stick your hand in the water to touch the baby’s head?”

“Do you want to keep the placenta?”

“Do you want to take your shirt off for skin to skin with your baby? 

For Denise, it might have been her best experience. She was given liberty to choose her positions and nature took its course. The midwife quickly prepared the tub and herself as mi nuera warned that she needed to push. Mi nietecito poked his head out, decided which way he would make his appearance and tada he made his entrance. Denise was cleaned up and ready for some rest… which she would do at home as soon as Jonathan ran home to get her things. Baby was born at 3 am and by 7:45 a.m. she was back home and by nine his apa came to meet his name sake. Benjamin Walter holds Uriah Benjamin, bien chulo! This little Ben was our 3rd generation of Benjamins, I knew my flaco was honored, I had said to my son that it was fitting and a new tradition for the San Diego Greenes to name their 2nd son Benjamin.

This sounded like a fitting labor and delivery experience for this “get it quick” era. I’m sure many of you have had similar experiences.  It was definitely a beautiful experience for us all, it seemed to close with “HappyThanksgiving and bienvenida es la Navidad. Merry Christmas.” We’ve all had a chance to meet the new baby and rejoice with our son. I am a pleased abuela and very thankful for more increase. 

En Conclusion

Mi hijo says that I’ve turned soft in my abuela era. I don’t know about that, mis nietos know I don’t mess with serious infractions like lying and disobedience and straight up rebellion. I’m quick to put on my mom hat, but I do put it on super lightly. I mean, la abuela doesn’t truly bring down the hammer right? So here’s how it works, if I put out the warning I must follow through so I’m careful how I warn, pues, they are my grandchildren after all and I will show the tough love if my must, but I truly prefer to display the soft sweet love. Gracias a Dios por mis amorcitos

Thank You Jesus For This Food, Amen.

Sharing food with mi familia has always celebrated milestones, created memories and filled our home with so much joy. This weekend I’ll be busy, maybe even in panic mode getting my ingredients together to feed my familia. Ya se, all those well prepared planners are way ahead of the game, pero yo? Well I just hope I find everything I need and if I don’t, I’ll just do like my ama taught me, work with what I have and keep my family happy. It’s a long day in the kitchen for me but I truly do love it when we gather around the table and counter. I am so very thankful for Thanksgiving, and thankful for my food.

Pero, before the Thanksgiving feast food coma, and before the frenzy of grocery shopping I’m thinking warm and fuzzy food thoughts. Remembering those foods that connected me to a love. I’m basking in those occasions that left a jewel in my heart. These are not necessarily Thanksgiving memories, but food memories that I’m thankful for. Mira:

  • I remember my amas avena during the cold desert mornings. Creamy avena for us was either oatmeal or cream of wheat, slowly cooked in leche with a cinnamon stick and teaspoon of sugar (or more) The chilly weather lately has me cooking avena, como me acuerdo de mi ama. She was adamant about avena with breakfast. We couldn’t leave home without a nice breakfast that always started with hot creamy avena.
  • I remember the fresh flour tortillas she whipped up for breakfast lunch or dinner. Absolutely unacceptable to have a meal without tortillas. She taught all her girls to make them, but my older sister Lupe mastered the “art” . One shelf in her fridge had a flat container of premade bolitas, dough balls; that way she only made dough a couple of times a week, and fresh tortillas were served daily in her home.
  • Nancy’s homemade bread- Ya se, from tortillas to bread. That’s how it is in a Multicultural familia. My suegra taught me how to make homemade bread. I’m so thankful for it and I think my family and friends are too since I enjoy sharing it, especially during this time of the year. 
  • Sourdough Pancakes- A Greene family tradition. This is my Benjamins show. Bien presumido! He loves to show off his sourdough pancakes, he absolutely believes the world is missing out not having his sourdough pancakes. They are pretty delicious though. Plenty of times he gets carried away inviting friends over for breakfast on Thanksgiving, a feast before the feast. My boys get so worried that there will not be enough pancakes for their usual 2nd and 3rd servings. 
  • Yams- These are not a big hit in our house. It used to be my sister Patty and I that loved the oven baked brown sugar and marshmallow yams, now it’s just me, it could be that Patty is having her own yams in heaven? Yams at Thanksgiving are another little tribute to my sister.
  • Cranberry sauce- This made the list because every year Ben insists he must have me serve it. I somehow remember to get the cranberry sauce and every year I forget to put it on the table. Asi es, cranberry sauce an old Thanksgiving dinner tradition, or some kind of berry. Pero, my cold blooded Englishman doesn’t notice that it wasn’t on his plate until after the food coma sets in. 
  • 3 Step Cheesecake. Exactamente just 3 steps. We have tasted better cheesecake, sometimes it bakes too dark, but I stick to this easy recipe. It’s easy, it’s inexpensive and now it’s tied to the Greene family. Thanksgiving without our easy 3 step Philadelphia cheesecake is unimaginable.
  • Pumpkin Pie- I can’t make my list and not include pumpkin pie, even though Thomas just uncovered to me this month that pumpkin pie is not a favorite of his on Thanksgiving- is that even allowed to be spoken? Esta loco! Pumpkin pie with whipping cream y un cafecito, mmm  
  • Broccoli salad- Pues, it’s supposed to be Joan’s Broccoli Madness Salad, pero ya sabes, it has becomes Rosies “lito bit of this and that” Broccoli salad. Again, it started off that Patty and I enjoyed the salad, now it’s me and Daniella. My one and one child that eats veggies, likes my broccoli salad. Provecho Daniella! 
  • Thanksgiving Leftovers- Is it possible to cause division in the camp because of leftovers? Sometimes you feel the tension. Patty and I made a pretty good team for our Thanksgiving planning, she forked out the money and I forked out the labor, a win win. One year she had also wanted to buy a turkey dinner from Honeybaked Ham Co. and I told her that was silly, que exagerada. She came prepared with her containers for leftovers. She was shocked and disappointed that she had leftover empty containers. Que langaros! We ate so much she had minimal leftovers to take home that year, or at least that’s how she saw it. Daniella and Thomas help themselves, no questions asked or comments made. Pero Jonathan, he’s  like his tia Patty, he wants to make sure I make enough for him to take home leftovers. Emery, he’s my lil flaco, he doesn’t pay attention until he comes around looking for leftovers then wonders who took them all! Ben simply expects to be served some leftovers the next day. 

The busy days before Thanksgiving make me a little crazy but of course I wouldn’t have it any other way. This Thanksgiving is lined with some sad thoughts. There will be a missing place setting for my apa and it is a second Thanksgiving with Covid hovering, but Gods hand in my life is undeniable and I must remember to Thank him for his goodness and provision. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving. Acuerdense, that feast is about storing up food memories, not calories.

It’s not about the food really, its about the people we love. When all five senses come together to celebrate with the people most dear to us, the memories last.