When we are in Ohio it is always a challenge to get the extended family together. Right now I have one nephew in Spain and another one in the last few weeks of his Junior year of college. In my brother’s family, the two older kids work most Saturdays. John and Jackie are always overbooked. So we pick a date and hope for the best. The date we picked this last trip happened to be May 5, so we decided to have a Cinco de Mayo family celebration.
None of us has any Mexican ancestry. My brother-in-law and his two sons all speak Spanish fluently, but it turned out none of them could come. So we celebrated Cinco de Mayo in the way of most American families: our US “translation” of a Mexican day of remembrance.
Cinco de Mayo is not the Mexican Independence Day. Instead, it commemorates a day when the Mexican Army won a great victory although vastly outnumbered by the French Army. When I likened it to Texans at the Alamo, Tom reminded me that the Texans lost. Cinco de Mayo celebrates a victory, but it also celebrates the resilience of the Mexican spirit. Our Cinco de Mayo celebration allowed us to learn a little more about Mexican history and celebrate the resilient spirits in our family.
We started with a “Mexican” lunch: a taco bar with tortillas and taco shells. We added some mixed fruit and my sister made Sopapilla which was delicious. Then we played some games. We had a pinata, which we hung from a tree and tried to hit. My dad decided to move the pinata up and down, making it much harder to hit. He thought it was hilarious. Each of us took a couple of swings blindfolded, but we had to resort to hitting it while we could see it to break it open.
We did a Mexican Hat Dance relay, which was pretty funny. And then we decided to play Mexican Train dominoes. Well, we called it that but we used our regular dominoes rules. We had nine people playing so most of us had pennies up on our trains most of the time.
Later in the afternoon we had some singing time. It is always good to sing with my family, even if we don’t know many Mexican songs. In fact, I think Cielito Lindo might be the only Mexican song I know and I only know that because of the Frito Bandito.
We didn’t have a politically correct Cinco de Mayo celebration. It was kind of like Taco Bell – USA Mexican lite. But when family gets together, any excuse will do. And we did learn a little more about the holiday and its meaning to Mexican-Americans.