The last day of school before winter break meant holiday parties in classrooms around the country, including those of Mateo and Olivia. I attended both.
Mateo was proud of his gingerbread house, made from graham crackers, candy canes, and chocolate, held together by cupcake frosting sprayed out of a can. Later, he constructed a reindeer ornament from popsicle sticks, and drew a picture of a snowman wearing a colorful striped scarf.
After Mateo’s party was over, I made my way to Olivia’s school. In her classroom, each student had been asked to make a presentation on his or her ethnic heritage, followed by a potluck lunch comprising food from each child’s background. The meal demonstrated the great diversity of California’s population, with dishes from Ireland, Norway, Mexico, Italy, Wales, Cuba, and Iran. Olivia spoke with confidence about being indigenous Maya and Guatemalan, and explained how tortillas are made. Her fellow students enjoyed seeing the Guatemalan flag and a picture of the country’s official bird, the beautiful and elusive quetzal, depicted in the flag’s central field as well as on the cover of Olivia’s Guatemala ABC’s book. Below, Olivia is holding her favorite hackysack ball, a common sight in Guatemala, shaped like a frog.
The next morning, we set off on a road trip to visit grandparents and family in San Diego. With pit stops and delays because of rain, the drive took nearly eleven hours. But with my sister Patrice along and Shakira’s music blasting from the CD player, nobody seemed to mind. We arrived in San Diego in holiday mode, ready to sleep late and slow down.