Tag Archives: Easter Sunday

Weekly Image of Life: Easter Time

11 Apr

 

A guy with a lot of Easter spirit.

A guy with a lot of Easter spirit.

 

I’m a little late on this one … but I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to show this guy’s Easter spirit at the horse track. I don’t know who he is or how much money he might have won, but when you see someone with such spirit you gotta take a picture and wonder why you didn’t bring your white suit and ears to race track.

Yes. The track. We spent Easter at the race track — a tradition going on about eight years now, maybe more. But even though I wasn’t wearing pastel colors and bunny ears, I still got lucky that day. I won 37 bucks on Foxy Boss to win. Good horse. I made Vietnamese Noodle Salad with something called fish sauce for the first time and it rocked. I avoided the crazy parents when I signed up for the early Easter Egg Hunt, and my kids got plenty of plastic colorful eggs. And while everyone was running for cover in their yellow dresses, me and my Lucky Jeans beat the pouring rain on Easter Sunday. Overall a good one.

 

Weekly Image of Life Courtesy of This Man’s Journey

 

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Horse Racing, Easter Eggs, and Cemeteries

 

 

 

 

Horse Racing, Easter Eggs, and Cemeteries.

8 Apr

Easter brings about different traditions in my family. As I mentioned before, when my uncle was alive Easter was filled with brunches, mimosas, Loteria, egg painting, pool parties, egg hunts, and ham dinners.

He was the glue that stuck everyone together. But since his passing there’d been a rift in the family dynamic — a family feud. But my Dad kept it together and tempers simmered as the family continued gathering.

Easter eggs // Ostereier

Easter eggs // Ostereier (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Since we didn’t own a pool or have a back yard big enough for egg hunts and master art projects for the entire family, my Dad and I created a new tradition upon my uncle’s passing.

The year after Uncle Erick died, his daughter really wanted to go egg hunting. We had no idea that a majority of the egg hunts took place on Saturday and not on Easter. We had no kids in the family back then. She was it. So in an effort to keep the Easter Spirit going, we thought we’d take her to the Arboretum for the big Easter Egg Hunt and brunch. We had it all planned out with everyone coming.

We get there … it’s closed. Egg hunt was Saturday.

She looked at me and my dad with those what-the-hell-just-happened eyes. I felt like a jackass. I looked around. The race track was about a mile from there. Seabiscuit? Why not.

Horse-racing at Del Mar?? Camera: Canon D60, L...

Horse-racing Photo credit: Wikipedia

You want to see some horses?

We piled back in the car, bought some plastic eggs at a nearby Ralphs Supermarket, and made our way to the race track. She saw horses, ate funnel cake, found some eggs, and won four dollars. She had a great time and a good Easter — Guat Style. My Dad had a blast. He loved the excitement of betting on the race, got a laugh from the unique names like Limerock Revenge and Warrens Venedalucy, and smiled as the horses powered through. He liked the movie Seabiscuit, too. So we went back every year for more races, more funnel cake, and more good times.We went to the cemetery to visit my uncle. We told him about the day and how much we missed him. Then headed all the way back to my parents’ place for a nice ham dinner.

This tradition continued until my Dad’s passing. The family divide got bigger. Hatfields vs. McCoys Guat style.

So today it was  just party of four at the race track. My cousins are all grown up. My uncle’s daughter is a young adult deciding between University of Southern California and Boston College. We’re a Trojan Family so as you probably guessed we’re leaning toward one particular school. My mom and aunts just wanted to stay home, away from the heat, but they drank coffee — not iced coffee, hot coffee — and ate champurradas. Go figure.

So, it was party of four racing for plastic eggs, (no crazy parents this time), sliding down the ginormous inflatable Lighting McQueen jumper-slide-thing, painting eggs, playing carnival games, and betting on horses like Ralphy Girl, La Chilena, and Shezabigbroad. We lost twenty dollars and drove back for family dinner.

But before heading back, I made a stop to visit the man who started the  new tradition with me six years ago — my dad. I headed to the cemetery ready to talk to him about our adventure at the track. I took him some lilies, Easter eggs, and the racing program.

Now I know the race track and cemetery aren’t the first thoughts that come to mind when you think Easter. It’s probably more like Jesus and Easter eggs. But when it comes to The Guat, nothing is conventional. Horse racing, Easter eggs and cemeteries — this is the Guat  Easter Celebration.

The Crazed Egg Hunter

7 Apr

Look at them … at first glance they look pretty normal — even caring.

But put a golden egg in front of them and they become this crazed, seething hunter trampling on anyone and anything in their way, including their own kid.

I’ve seen parents get a little pushy, but crazed egg-hunter bitches? That’s a whole new level.

Easter eggs

Easter eggs (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Easter egg hunts happening all weekend long and you’re bound to run into parents like these. Easter egg hunts are supposed to be family friendly. They’re supposed to give kids a chance to get their own eggs, that’s why they split the kids up by age. They should split the parents up.

It’s funny how everyone followed the rules at first. There’s a multitude of brightly colored eggs scattered all over the baseball field. Everyone is lined up in the outfield and along the fence. They tell you to stand back. Don’t start ’till you hear the whistle.

There’s no caution tape. No ropes. No red tape. Just you and the honor system. And everybody follows it. A kid walks out and the parent hauls him back in line and explains that it’s not time yet. Everyone was lining up — waiting for the countdown.

5-4-3-2-1!

A marathon of parents rush the field along with their toddlers and three-year olds. Most follow the egg protocol, where they head to a patch of grass and collect five, maybe six eggs. Kids are happy, parents are happy.

But then there’s the crazed hunter who sees the golden egg, glistening in the sun. Is there something special to it? A dollar bill? A gift certificate? A Willy Wonka Golden Ticket? Yeah, maybe. I dont’ know I’ve never been the crazed parent to get one. But there must be something special because the guy with the microphone said they were special. Plus there were only five of them on the field.

It was these five special golden eggs that created the madness.

So after countdown I see him sprint by, dragging his poor kid past all these rainbow-colored eggs. She reaches for an orange egg during the race, but it’s out of her reach as her dad pulls her toward the golden egg. He picks up speed as he sees another crazed egg hunter sprinting toward the same egg. His daughter’s shoe falls off, but he doesn’t stop. She cries. He runs.

As he sprints to one of the five special eggs, he crushes a blue plastic egg that a kid with a dinosaur shirt was planning on putting in his basket. He doesn’t look back. He doesn’t say he’s sorry. He keeps going. It’s a race to beat the other parent.

He finally sees it within his grasp. He bumps into another kid, and sidelines an adult. He notices the other crazed parent is close, but according to his estimate he’s closer. A kid with a baseball cap pops out of no where and it becomes a three-way race. I’m rooting for the kid, but as he stretches his hand out for that special egg the man busts out his Andre-the-Giant hands and grabs that golden egg in one swoop. The kid looks startled, as the man clutches onto the prized egg. The other crazed hunter is upset and continues her scramble.

There are no more eggs on the field. He’s got one. The one. Everybody stares in amazement. He shows the egg to his daughter. She’s angry because she wanted the orange egg. She gives him a dirty look and walks back to the outfield, looking for her shoe.

He calls her name and shows her the egg again. She rolls her eyes and turns around.

I look at my son. He peeks inside his red bucket and smiles. He’s got seven eggs, all different colors. He picked them himself.

 

Easter and Family Stories

6 Apr

 When I think about Easter. I usually think about two people … no … not Jesus and not the Easter Bunny.

A Cute Little Bunny With Some Eggs

A Cute Little Bunny With Some Eggs (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I think about my uncle Erick and my Dad. I’ve talked a lot about my Dad and the different things and events that remind me of him. He was an awesome Dad. But I’ve never spoken about my uncle, probably because it saddens me to think that he’s no longer here either.

Two of the most important influences in my life and they both passed away due to crappy-ass diseases they should have never gotten in the first place. These type of terminal diseases should be reserved for jackasses, but instead two of the best guys I know got them and it sucks. It was a situation where I wish Gregory House M.D. was their doctor. 

But he wasn’t and now I just have memories … at least I have those … Easter happened to be one of them.

My uncle usually went all out. Brunches. Egg hunts and Loteria. We’d start in the morning with brunch and continue all the way to a ham dinner and old family stories. One of my favorites happened to be how my uncle became the man with the house, pool, and seven pairs of Levis … 

We had many relatives living with us back in the day. Some did little favors; others did very little. Some stayed months, others years. My uncle Erick stayed the longest. For 13 years, our living room was his bedroom.

Uncle Erick was the coolest one, the brother I never had.  He came over when he was 16-years old. I was only five when he arrived. I don’t remember what he looked like back then, he probably had more hair and weighed less. But what I do remember is that after his first couple of months he bought seven pairs of Levi jeans. He had one for every day of the week and was very proud of that. Erick came from my mom’s side of the family. He was the youngest of nine and the tallest standing at 5-foot-6.

He struggled when he first arrived. Hard core. There were no kids his age living in our building  and those in the neighborhood that were his age wanted to beat him up because he was different. He was ESL – English as a Second Language – and that made him different. But we watched a lot of television together and that helped with the A, B, C’s. “Heckle and Jeckle,” “Felix the Cat,” “the Pink Panther,” “Mighty Mouse,” “Sesame Street,” and “the Electric Company” were my favorites.

Uncle Erick was a fast learner. He had to be. He often ran into the type that didn’t appreciate non-English speakers and came home with messed up hair, dirty clothes, and small bruises here and there. Erick told my parents he had joined the football team, but they knew better.

One day after Erick came home with a very noticeable black eye and bloody nose, my dad took out the old purple Everlast boxing gloves with yellow laces and taught him a couple of moves in the patio. My dad’s compadres, Rosendo and Macedonio, who used to live in apartment A helped out as sparing partners. My dad convinced Erick that he didn’t go through an El Norte experience  of crawling through a tunnel of crap and surviving a voyage in the desert to get pushed around by some mocosos.

My hopscotch evenings were suspended for a while as Rosendo, Macedonio, and dad got into their right jabs, left hooks, and combinations. In no time at all, Erick was light on his feet and heavy with his hands. We never saw bruises after Erick was introduced to the purple Everlasts. He even joined ROTC where he met other ESLers. Eventually he joined the soccer and football teams.

But Erick had goals beyond standing up to the ESL-haters. He had passion, and he knew school would get him there. He studied every night. After everyone went to sleep, he would turn on the big GE flashlight with the built-in clock, lie on the brown sofa, and try to finish his homework.

Despite the nights when the police helicopters would thunder above our building with their flashing lights and sirens, chasing a suspect on the run, Erick would keep solving problems with the Pythagorean Theorem. Despite the loud arguments of people’s parents in the building, Erick would keep looking up words in the orange coffee-stained Webster’s Dictionary in order to finish his english or history homework. And, knowing that those ESL-haters hung out near the park library, Erick would still take a chance every week and walk to the park library to check out the maximum seven books.

Everyone in the building made an effort to help improve his English. They constantly spoke to him in English, as best they could. Dona Margarita, from apartment F, suggested watching those English soap operas that never end, like “GeneralHospital” or “Days of Our Lives.” She even mentioned the night ones like “Dallas” and “Dynasty,” which proved to be juicier.

Don Chuy, from apartment I, recommended shows like “Hunter,” “T.J. Hooker,” and “Hawaii-Five-O.” He said they would help Erick just in case he ran into the police.

Rosendo and Macedonio lent Erick their “Ingles is Easy” tapes, where they taught Erick to say “a little” and not “a leedle.” After a couple of months, Erick learned to speak, read, and write English just as good or even better than anybody in the building.

Erick graduated from high school and got some kind of ESL scholarship from the state of California and a full ride to the University of Southern California. The scholarship was for, what they called, his “commitment to academic excellence in the face of adversity.” It sounded very important and we were all proud of him. My parents, my sister, Rosendo, Macedonio, and everyone else in the building were happy for him. They were even happier because the scholarship was more than a piece of paper. It was proof –evidence—that he’d made it and they were a part of that.

 We threw a party. It was a pachanga with carne asada, frijoles, mole de pollo, arroz, platanos fritos, plenty of Budweiser and the sounds of La Sonora Dynamita playing on our Sanyo stereo. Everyone brought out their vinyl kitchen chairs and we sat in the patio. There were yellow ones with green flowers, brown ones with rusted legs, orange ones with food stains, and white ones with the plastic tearing at the corners. We didn’t mind the wear and tear; we were all family.

Once everyone finished eating, my mom, Dona Margarita, Dona Imelda, my tia Eugenia, and her comadre Letty began swinging their hips to the sounds of cumbia. They all looked like busy washing machines, moving every part of their body with just the right rhythm. Moms could always do stuff like that. They brought Erick out to the center of their circle and continued dancing.

 Uncle Erick was no longer a beginner. He made the transition successfully and everyone respected him because of that. He graduated from that expensive college and moved on.

We had a party for that too. He left la vecindad and moved into a building with no bullet holes or cone factories nearby. But he always came over for dinner.

When he grew up Uncle Erick  no longer wore Levi Strauss to work, but a suit-and-tie. Erick, who got chased by suspect elements at age 16, who spoke no English when he got here, and who slept on my couch for 13 years, became an attorney in private practice. He specialized in immigration law.

I miss my uncle. I miss the stories. I miss him at Easter.