Holiday Letter, Season’s Greetings, Year-in-Review, Looking Ahead

Happy, Merry Holidays to all friends and acquaintances, virtual and concrete. I’m winding down my short North Carolina visit and return to Oaxaca on December 24 in time for Christmas Eve village festivities — a midnight supper with extended family.

This year (2018) I received Season’s Greetings letters from long-time friends, written, duplicated, personally signed and mailed to me via the USPS, one accompanied by a family photo complete with obedient dog. It’s catch-up time for those of us who live far away or who have been out of touch for a while.

Oaxaca’s Radish Festival

Usually, the update includes what grades the kids are in (for those still raising them), favorite sports and hobbies for all, everyone’s accomplishments, and far-and-away travel destinations reached.  Reports are glowing. 

One friend, closer in age to me, included a year of what’s ailing her and her husband, and their dwindling animal menagerie. I’m commiserating from my easy chair.  This has been a year-end filled with ailments.

The last Posada on Christmas Eve, Teotitlan del Valle

I’ve never written and sent one of these letters. Today, I can barely remember what I did ten or eleven months ago and I don’t keep a database of everyone who has touched me in my life.  My co-dependence on technology is palpable. 

This is so different from Mexico, where most families and friends still live in close proximity and see each other regularly, sharing in family celebrations, participating in the raising of infants and children, attending birthdays, baptisms, marriages and funerals. Yet, they are becoming dispersed now, too, as young adults seek jobs in faraway cities, often across borders. Do they stay in touch with a holiday letter? I doubt it. 

Nochebuena flower or poinsettia, native to Mexico

This prompted me to think about the year in review and the year to come. And to give you a more personal note of communication.

Before I left Oaxaca for my short return to North Carolina, Itzel Guadalupe aka Lupita asked me what my intentions were for 2019. She had already begun to think about hers: weave and sell five rugs, learn English, study harder to qualify for high school and then college, maybe visit the USA — with my help, she added! And, why not?

Happy New Year from Teotitlan del Valle, Oaxaca

And, I wondered in self-reflection, Is it more important to go over the year past or to focus on the year to come? As a historian, I’ve decided to do a little of both. We must learn what came before in order to build on the future, no?

2018 Highlights:

I went back and forth from Oaxaca and the USA six times and made no across the water journeys to foreign lands. Instead, I visited family in California, and friends in New Mexico, Colorado, North Carolina, Chicago and Philadelphia, making a commitment to sustaining relationships. I developed a new folk art and textile tour to Michoacan upcoming in 2019 that includes visiting the environmentally fragile Monarch butterfly colony. I didn’t read enough. I joined and dropped out of several online dating sites after several unsuccessful attempts at connection. It’s hard to be consistent living a bimodal life.

Lupita and her mother

I helped Omar Chavez Santiago get a 10-year visa and brought him to North Carolina on two separate occasions for rug exhibitions and sales. I made a doggie patio and started walking 10,000+ steps four or five times a week with the four-legged ones. I kept up with writing Oaxaca Cultural Navigator blog and taking photographs. In late summer, I was contacted by an editor compiling stories for a book about women from the USA who choose  to live in Mexico. She invited me to contribute and I dug deep about why I live in Teotitlan del Valle, Oaxaca. That led me to realize the value and importance to me of this commitment and decided it was time to move forward to apply for a permanent resident visa, which I got in November. 

Tlacolula market sky, Sunday before Christmas

It was never in my wildest dreams that I thought I would ever get a parasite, but it took a Oaxaca gastroenterologist to diagnose me after several tests in NC that gave me a clean bill of health. I learned a lot about microbiota, the digestive system, and gut health. I’m getting better. Seems this is a more common occurrence for both Mexicans and transplants than is talked about. 

As the year winds down and I’m regaining energy, I also think about what’s in store for 2019 and what lies beyond in 2020. I’ve always liked to revisit this question at my December 31 birthday, now a number I only fretted about becoming long ago. More important now than before, it seems. So, here’s what I’m thinking:

Downtown Durham, NC — where I live, too

2019 is pretty much locked in:

  • Oaxaca Coast Textile Tour in mid-January
  • Michoacan Folk Art Tour and Butterfly Sanctuary in early February
  • Chiapas Textile Tour at the end of February
  • Personal textile exploration with my sister to Japan in late March
  • Oaxaca Day of the Dead Women’s Writing Retreat
  • Reuniting with family and friends in Durham, California and beyond
Winter on Oaxaca’s coast, warm and temperate

2019 Morphing Into 2020 Intentions:

  • Offer fewer long-distance textile travel programs, reducing the number of winter trips from three to two
  • Stay closer to home; perhaps focus on a mix of local experiences: folk and contemporary art, textiles, pottery, mezcal, jewelry making, cooking, etc.
  • Survey Oaxaca Cultural Navigator followers to determine which TWO places in Mexico to visit in 2020 — new or repeat
  • Accelerate my own personal investigation of international textiles, and perhaps invite a small group to join me 
  • Continue to reconnect with family and friends wherever they are
  • Love and appreciate nature, walk the campo with the dogs
  • Celebrate life, the beauty of Mexico and her people, the gritty streets of Durham, North Carolina
  • Stay politically active and committed to change without burnout
  • Practice “life begins at the end of your comfort zone” and stretch, but differently, with more intention, slower, easier
Happy Holidays from Teotitlan del Valle

I wish for each of you a holiday of satisfying abundance with family and friends, of peace and a year of good health ahead. Prosperity is the blessing of life, deep breath and contentment. More to come in the New Year. 

All my best,

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