A Mexican Mother's Day...


My Viejita (an affectionate name I called my Mother, which means little old woman) left this earth nine months ago. Though she never liked a lot of attention and preferred to always celebrate others, she loved Mother’s Day. It was a very special day for her and she looked forward to it. It was one the day when the entire family would come together and celebrated her special day. We began early that dawn and celebrate her Moter's Day the entire day.

My beloved Viejita believed that we had all been given the eternal priviledge to choose our parents, our families and our friends ( even before we were even born ). If indeed that is the case, I have to believe that I did a great job chooing my Viejita (Mother) and dear father!

Growing up my life was not your typical life. My parents were not perfect and I was most certainly not the perfect son. But my parents instilled in us all the right principles including love of God, faith, respect for others, integrity, gratitude, humility and respect for them and one another even when we were angry.

The last few months have been very challenging for me. Yet no where near in comparison to my Viejitas’s last few months. None the less I miss her terribly! This Mother’s Day will be particularly hard for my family and for me. It will be the first Mother's Day without her, and the very first time we will not be singing to her. But let me share with you our Mother's Day tradition.

I am not sure if you knew this, but my entire family was always musically inclined. In fact we always had a musical group (conjunto) and at one point even a eight piece band that played for just about any occasion including at weddings, birthdays, quincianeras, country fairs and organized events for several years.

So each Mother’s day or Dia de las Madres, which by the way is celebrated in Mexico on May 10th ( no matter what day it falls on ), we would gather to serenade our Viejita.

Even though it was the same song and lyrics ( see lyrics and translation below ), we had been serenading her with each Mother’s Day, it was always comical to see just how much effort it took to get everyone organized. Imagine for instance, nine and at times ten singers and musicians, all with nine and ten different ideas about what time we should play the song, who would be lead singer and or rthymn guitarist, what key we would play the melody in and who would be the one to give the spirited and loving Mother's Day message.

We always took the time to rehearse and would practice "Las Mananitas" for a few hours a couple of weeks before May 10th. We always had a couple acoustic guitars, a violoncello, a trumpet and a clarinet, as well as a small snare drum, a tamborine, some maracas and a violin along with a chorus of teenagers and grown men and women.

The night before Mother’s Day we would stay up all night – usually enjoying some late
night beef burritos. My older brothers would have a few cold cervezas and some home made sotol. Then around day break we would quietly sneak to her window and begin to sing the traditional Mother's Day song called Las Mananitas.

Las Mañanitas - lyricas in Spanish followed by their translation:

Estas son las mañanitas, que cantaba el Rey David,
Hoy por ser día de tu santo, te las cantamos a ti.
Despierta, mi bien Adela, despierta, mira que ya amaneció,
Ya los pajarillos cantan, la luna ya se metió.

This is the morning song that King David always sang,
Because today is your saint's day we're singing it for you.
Wake up, my dear Adela, wake up, look it is already dawn,
The birds are already singing and the moon has already set.

Que linda está la mañana en que vengo a saludarte,
Venimos todos con gusto y placer a felicitarte.
Ya viene amaneciendo, ya la luz del día nos dio,
Levántate de mañana, mira que ya amaneció.

How lovely is this morning in which I come to greet you,
We all come with joy and pleasure to celebrate you.
The morning is coming now, the sun is giving us its first light,
Get up it's morning, look it is already sunrise.

El día en que tu naciste nacieron todas las flores
En la pila del bautismo, cantaron los ruiseñores.

The day you were born all the flowers bloomed,
On the baptismal fountain the nightingales sang.

Quisiera ser solecito para entrar por tu ventana
y darte los buenos días acostadita en tu cama.

I would like to be a sunray to enter through your window
to wish you good morning while you're still lying in your bed.

Quisiera ser un San Juan, quisiera ser un San Pedro
Para venirte a cantar con la música del Cielo.

I would like to be Saint John, I would like to be Saint Peter
To come sing to you the music of the heavens.

De las estrellas del cielo tengo que bajarte dos
una para saludarte y otra para decirte adios.

Of the stars in the sky I have to lower two for you
One with which to greet you and the other to wish you farewell.

Here’s my advice for you, if you’re lucky to still have your Mother. Please don’t wait for Mother’s Day to let her know how much you love her and what she means to you.

If for whatever reason you’re estranged from her, find a way to fix that relationship before it’s too late.

Remember, that time flows in buckets and the day will come when you will join the ranks of those like me, who only have memories of Mother’s Days past.

Your Mother is your Mother every day, not just on Mother’s Day!

Happy Mother’s Day in heaven Viejita!

Feliz dia de las Madres!

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