Wednesday, November 14, 2018

With my burrito

Author's note: I started this post before everything with Karen happened. We had been planning on joining her on a humanitarian trip to Mexico, which was just another reason to learn Latin American Christmas music. We aren't going to Mexico anymore, but when I was humming Los peces en el río, Karen said she recognized the song from something. I told her it was a Spanish Christmas song and she insisted it was from a movie or something but later decided it was from an old Christmas record of hers. It was a little early for Christmas music but she didn't mind that I couldn't get it out of my head and she laughed and laughed when I told her about mi burrito sabanero.

Now that Ruth's in the family (my brother David's new wife) we've felt a little more motivation to learn Spanish (she's from Argentina) so as I've been putting together Christmas music for our little ukulele group I've found myself focusing on music from Latin America. I could probably just ask Ruth what songs she sang at Christmastime as a child, but I've actually been having a lot of fun finding songs on my own.

Los peces en el río, for example, seemed like a rather odd song to me at first. It's a great song for learning the verb "to drink" because the chorus goes, "pero mira como beben los peces en el rio, pero mira como beben por ver a Dios nacido. Beben y beben y vuelven a beber! Los peces en el rio por ver a Dios nacer."

I was like, "Why fish?"

But they're just watching the Virgin Mary go about her work, tending to her sweet baby, from the river. They keep coming back to watch because they just love watching her and that baby, which is a rather sweet sentiment.

Also, the song has her washing diapers and I love that!

I had never thought about Mary washing diapers before but I'm sure she spent plenty of time doing menial tasks like that. Life can't be awash with halos all the time.

The song is sacred, but also fun.

I've also been learning Mi burrito sabanero, another fun song (that makes rather repetitive use of the verb "to go," so it's another great song for hammering in those conjugations).

When I was first reading over the lyrics, however, I stupidly* wondered, "Why a burrito?"

But then I realized that the better question was, "Why not a burrito?"

I mean, we sing about chestnuts roasting on an open fire, figgy pudding, and wassail. Who am I to draw the line at burritos? Burritos are yummy and they are a traditional Christmas food in Andrew's family, anyway.** Maybe a sabanero is a special Christmassy burrito sauce that evoked all sorts of warm childhood memories for people...

And then I read the English translation: the song is about a little donkey!


Now, I knew that burrito meant 'little donkey,' but the picture that pops into my mind when you say the word burrito is not a little donkey. When you say burrito, all I see is a snuggly-wrapped bean-filled tortilla of joy.

But a donkey makes sense. I mean, if you're going to Bethlehem you'd probably want to take a donkey rather than a burrito, right? But, honestly—why not take both? Is it even up for debate? Do we really even need a taco about this?

* This is a post about Christmas music so I thought throwing in a Christmas word would be appropriate.

** Karen's family grew up having burritos (fried burritos) for Christmas and she continued the tradition with her family and we have tried to continue it with ours. Andrew told me that his grandparents often called them "burros" rather than "burritos," so I said, "Why? Couldn't they find any small tortillas?" I think I'm so funny.

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