I’m postponing my normal 1st Century Pastor post today to tell you about a little Mexican girl I loved in second grade. Her name was Veronica Rodriguez, and she had tan skin and dark hair that ran the length of her back.
In first grade I’d had a “girlfriend” — a friend who was a girl that I played with during recess, a pale complected girl named Debbie, whom I sat near in class. But three months of summer break cooled our relationship, and Debbie wouldn’t be in my second grade classroom, which is why Veronica captured my heart. Or maybe she would have anyway with those dark eyes.
Back then I was no more Mexican than my Gringo mother and stepfather. My Mexican dad was long out of the picture, along with his family, just about all of whom I don’t recall ever meeting. All my aunts and uncles and cousins were white. It was all I knew — pale skin and sunscreen — despite growing up in southwest Arizona.
Today is my Mexican bride’s birthday. She’s half-Mexican like me, but she brought out the half that lay dormant in me for better than two decades. (I even helped make tortillas the other day.) In a way she’s the Veronica I loved in second grade. But with just enough white to relate to my Gringoness. (It wouldn’t have lasted with Veronica.)
It’s sad having a birthday so close to Christmas. (My mother’s is the 23rd.) Even more, it’s often the shortest day of the year, this Winter Solstice. (I think this year’s is the 22nd.) So I’ve tried to make the day special for Cindy, putting aside Christmas preparations and celebrations, except the year I took her to see Harry Connick Jr. for one of his Christmas concerts at the Detroit Opera House. I made an exception that year, since he’s one of her favorites. We celebrated our anniversary one year at a concert of his in Cleveland. (Hmm, he seems to be a part of many of our celebrations.)
We’ll be going to dinner tonight with all the Christmas revelers, and I’ll give her a birthday gift, purposefully wrapped in birthday wrap, not the Christmas variety she’s used to getting. I’ve a special gift for her this year, a thoughtful one, if I do say so myself. Occasionally, Cindy reads these posts, so I’ll have to hold back on revealing what it is. Let’s just say it’s related.
If you are reading this today, Cynthia: ¡Feliz Compleaños! Te quiero, mi chicita bonita.
(We’ll have to get to the Christmas wrapping tomorrow.)