Proceed to Read Only if You Will Not Freak Out
It Is "That Time of Year" again, when ChimMaya gets "All Holiday-ed!"
Guadalupe Gonzalez, Contributing Writer
Today, I sleepily read my e-mail. "Sale"--delete. "Sale"--delete. "Sale"--delete. "Closed for Holiday Decorating: ChimMaya"---What! It is that time of year once more, when my friends at ChimMaya do the holidays up the way they were meant to be?! A mixture of the religious and the secular. A look to the Heavens, which canopy our blessings here. A bow to grace and the noble. And a wink to the child in each one of us.
Published on LatinoLA: November 29, 2012
I first went to ChimMaya shortly after my Papi died. He died on December 14, 2009. My sisters took me to ChimMaya a few days after that, as I was spending time with the family at my parents' house. We were greeted sympathetically and graciously by everyone at ChimMaya. Big, hearty abrazos communicated that they knew and acknowledged, silently but strongly, our pain.
I was agog at the beauty and gentle loveliness that I observed in every corner of the store. Even the music that was playing was classic and pleasing, not a big ol' "Red Nose" Song blasting at me, but a song with amazing lyrics and melody. Soothing to my broken heart. Restful for my anxious soul.
Obviously, quite a bit of thought had entered into each and every display, each individual vignette, even to the appropriateness of the merchandise nestled here and there. I must have looked like a girl from the ranchito, transported into the most sophisticated of Navidades. It was daytime, otherwise I am certain that if I turned quickly enough, I would catch a glimpse of Las Posadas. The Holy Family, accompanied by others, seeking shelter for a young woman. I remember the songs from my childhood, somewhat mournful, filled with disappointment, upon being turned away at every door.
There, at ChimMaya, no one is turned away. In fact, people are drawn in to the retablo in every room. Admiration, peacefulness and anticipation fill the air. I sat in one of the rooms, splendidly arranged in shades of ivory and gold, sat on a bench next to a stained glass window and cried. "Silent Night" was playing. The last time I had heard it, I was singing it to my Papi.
He lay on his hospital bed, intubated and sedated. Yet, he heard my singing and I could see him, trying to mouth the words along with me. "Papi, just rest, Papi. Let me sing to you. Just let the song wash over you and keep it in your heart." He and I were alone in his room, the monitors, a jarring reminder of where we were--and why.
We knew how my Papi's story would end. The entire family had discussed my Papi's condition and shown the MRI films to trusted, dear family friends who are doctors. We had all talked to one another. And we did have a silent night, the hush of the night bringing peacefulness and prayer to each one of us, in its own way.
A good friend of one of my sisters had mentioned that he had never seen a family so unified and aware of what their Dad and they were facing. He did mention, "Making peace with your Father...", so I thought, well, things are pretty good, but he and I should talk a little bit. When I showed up, one of my brothers-in-law was there with my Dad. He gave me an odd look as he left, like "Ay te watcho."
Um, not so good peacemaking face. Then my Papi said, "?íEse hombre esta en drogas!" Um, not so peaceful at all. And that is when my Papi tried pulling off all the connections and leads to the monitors, his I.V., and anything else he could get his hands on.
I could not find the nurse's button, so I called out "Help" and nurses came running. My Papi looked at me as if I had betrayed him in this moment when he needed a trusted daughter. I was crying as the nurses re-connecting him, spoke soothing words, easing him back into rest. Then my Papi threw me out of his room, and I assured him calmly that I would come back and see him in a little bit. As I walked back to the room where my family sat with our doctor friend, I began to cry and said, "Peacemaking did not go so good."
And I realized that my big, strong Papi was scared. He still loved all of us, as he always had. And always would. We needed to be strong now, for him and each other
So my turn came to spend the night, and it was then I sang "Silent Night." A song that was sung in Welsh, hauntingly, at his Rosary.
ChimMaya did not make me cry. Their store evokes memories of younger, happier days. Of dreams of spun sugar and Ferris wheels. Of riding on a helicopter with my Papi when I was nine, and we flew over Santa Monica, strapped in and his arm holding me firmly. Of a place where all good things reside. And anything can come true.
I look forward to their opening this Friday, so I can revel in youthful dreams, positive hopes and sunnier times. ChimMaya is a place of true magic. Of fantasy based on truth. The truth that God is with us, always, His arms holding each one of us, firmly.
Guadalupe Gonzalez, Contributing Writer:
Writer, Los Angeles Attorney and Mall Veterana