It was a beautiful Sunday. Sunny, 80ish and an endless, bright blue sky...
We made it to Mass at Our Mother of Sorrows, for the first day of Advent. The beginning of the Christmas season...but, instead of the peace and calm this message should have delivered, I had a moment of panic as I realized there are only 3 more weeks until Christmas!!
While we waited for the kids to get out of Sunday school, Lupe and I talked more about the Rise of the Guardians. She told me she thought some of that movie would remind me of Kim - and said how the very beginning, where Jack Frost is emerging, unconsious from the depths of a frozen pond, breaking through the ice and into the bright, shining light from a full moon. He's wondering 'Why? Why me?' to be chosen to leave the living and to serve as a Guardian.
Underwater scenes always get me. Skyfall, one of the Jason Bourne movies, Rise of the Guardians. Takes me back to Kim's final days, what I saw her go through...
Then it was on to Viro's with Andrea and Breanna - where we spent about two hours making sure we had tried everything available on their buffet! This is such a great way to start our day - no rushing, just good food, company and conversation.
Later, after splitting up for errands, we were passing Tucson McGraw's Restaurant, nearing the Pantano horse stables, when Tonio pipes up:
"Dad? Did we pass the horses yet?"
"Nope. They are coming up."
"Do you think we could stop by and visit the donkey if she's out?"
The bambini connect their Mama to this donkey. They know all about how she wanted to own a donkey, one day (go back about 237 blogs ago or so for that story).
When we pulled up, the donkey was on the far side of her corral.
The kids called to her. Nothing. I whistled. Nothing. We tried making clicking noises. Nothing. I thought "Kim, these kids feel your presence through this donkey. If you are anywhere near..." This thought did not get any further - the donkey did a quick turn and trotted right over to us. The kids were overjoyed.
She stuck her head right out between the bars of the fence and Tonio walked right up to her and began to pet her. Their smiles were priceless.
We said our goodbyes, and while driving home, Tonio spoke up again:
"Dad? I think, when I grow up, I want to be an archaeologist (which he has always wanted to be!). I will dig up lots of neat stuff and sell them for a lot of money. I will give most of the money to Mama's foundation, but, with the rest, I will buy a ranch and fill it with baby donkeys to raise. And Bella can herd them."
Dammit. He's so sweet an thoughtful. Good thing I wear sunglasses a lot.
Meanwhile, Brendon (Janene's son), who had spent the night, and Cody had finished hanging the Christmas lights from the eaves. I made a deal with them. They could sleep in this morning, missing Mass, if they put up the lights for me, as they had done last year. "Can you bring us Italian Wedding soup from Viro's, too?" they bargained. Done deal.
Tonight, I got the little ones back to church - this time San Xavier, where they kicked off the celebration for his feast day, which is tomorrow. It was very similar to the one we attended for Saint Francis back in October. They blessed San Xavier's statue, which was riding in an ornate carrying thingy. This was then carried by four people, in a procession complete with Native American drummers, maraca players, guitarists, trumpeters, dancers and then the congregation.
This pic is of the procession of San Xavier, through the plaza in front of the church. The priest are in the front and San Xavier is lit up.
I remembered getting scolded for taking pictures last time, so I opted for no flash and snuck them in where I could. Autumn tells me "Dad, I take a picture with a flash quick, then look away so no one thinks it was me."
There is an air of controlled chaos at these fiestas. The aerial fireworks are being lit off at the bottom of Grotto Hill, maybe 40 yards away. Meanwhile, in the very center of the plaza, several people are lighting the 100 string firecrackers off and casually tossing them to either side. We were about 15 yards from them.
And, there are bands playing and the church bells are clanging wildly!
The kids spotted the bell ringer's friends high above the celebration.
Sometimes, in the midst of parenting, something gets overlooked. Or lost. During the madness of the fireworks, and the religious fervor, it occurred to me, that the bambini very well may have never experienced Indian fry bread. I hesitated to ask them, not wanted to deal with the guilt of never having got them any...but, in the spirit of the night's festivities, I dared ask them:
"Kid's? Can you hear me? Have you ever had Indian fry bread?"
"Indian fry bry? What's that?" Aut asked.
"No, fry BREAD." I emphasized.
Ok, I thought. I had somehow failed them. Tucson natives that had yet to taste Indian fry bread. I was about to make things right.
They watched, as the bread was made right before their eyes.
"They are making it fresh!" Tonio yelled. "They are making it right now!" Autumn added.
The nice lady who had prepared this, asked them if they wanted honey or powdered sugar on her creation. 'BOTH!' they squealed in stereo. And that is how their clothes became accented by white dots! They enjoyed it so much!
It was a fun time, I was glad that I took them...
...before we left, we tried to stop by Mary's chapel, where Kim's photo is on her altar...the gate was locked. We could see the candles burning brightly...
"Are all those for Mama?" Tonio asked...
Tonight they are...