Epiphany! January 6. When Jesus, according to legend, encountered “Gentiles” (the “Three Kings,” one Black, one probably Arabic, one—White? More likely Asian, who knows?) The end of the “Twelve Days of Christmas!” Let’s celebrate, even if not of those traditions (strong in Mexico, Latin America—and strong, still, here in the Magic Valley of South Texas)!

The point is, peoples of varied ethnicities and regions unify in hope. That also includes hope for peaceful, normal counting/formal approval of already decided votes for President-elect Biden. Here on Earth, here in little ’ol Edinburg, Rio Grande Valley, south Texas, life goes on, amid those political concerns, amid COVID-19 (hitting Hidalgo County hard!), amid economic set-backs.

Right now, our more simple dilemma—as often—is where to purchase the Rosca, the “crown” of sweet bread, so traditional for the Day of the Kings. A fine bakery, among others, is La Reynera, on Freddy Gonzalez (Chicano Viet Nam war Veteran) Boulevard. Also popular, “Paris” bakeries in McAllen. This year, our family selected La Estación, in nearby Mission (with their service BC–“Before COVID”–similar to the café at the famous Parroquia, near the sea, in port city of Vera Cruz, Mexico, minus the tradition of tapping on the glass for service). 

Photo credit: McCormick.com

Whomever gets the Baby Jesus inside the Rosca, must throw a tamalada party on Candelaria (Candle mass), February 2. Nowadays, there is more than one Jesus—lots of Jesus-es to go around, sharing the hope, the wealth, the obligation! Traditions are great, and they do expand, change, as well as dissipate. Hopefully, democracy in the US will not be among those fine traditions that dissipate. Ojalá, (a little prayer to God, to Allah) that sanity and tradition may rule in Congress on January 6 (and on Jan. 20), as well as here at our tables, set for Rosca and chocolate caliente (gift of the Aztecs Kings to the world)!

My hope, also, and prediction (dare I?) for Mexico, is that there will be progressive improvement there. The same for the U.S. – post-COVID, post Trumpism. It is bound to be! I predict an economic boomlet here, after enough are vaccinated. It should happen in Mexico too, being the first in Latin America to receive the vaccine. In the U.S., things will improve, health-wise, and then later, with time, economy-wise (perhaps the necessary, higher minimum wage?) and government policy-wise. 

Improvements: revival of proper conduct of the Department of Agriculture (bringing back science); Department of Education (more funding, eliminating favoritism to private, religious schools); Department of the Interior (Native American and Representative Deb Haaland of New Mexico, as new Secretary, and, hopefully, restoration of traditional monuments and lands, etc.) But, make no mistake, getting to that “promised land” will be rough. 

How bad is it? “Republicans and apologists advocate for the overthrow of an American election and to maintain a sociopath autocrat in power” (David Frum, “Trump Crosses Red Line,” Atlantic, 3 Jan 21). Pence or others to save the day? No, he no longer stands for the Constitution; “Cowardice is contagious” and “no mask is thick enough” to protect Pence or other enablers from the “pathogen of fear.” Times are hard in Mexico, too, although the erratic AMLO (initials for the president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador) is not quite as megalomaniac as Trump; he remains in power through democratic election.

Indeed, AMLO might be able to return to proactive projects, such as La Ruta Maya (“The Mayan Route”), complete with extended train transport for tourism in the south of Mexico. What a difference that would make, compared with his previous, reactive posture against Trump’s harsh trade and immigration policies. I also hope he might wake up and reject imitating Trump’s foolish stance, ignoring COVID’s dangers and be willing to encourage more protective measures.

“The thing is,” to use a favorite phrase from our Vice President-elect, Kamala Harris, both the US and Mexico are inextricably inter-related. We are not economic equals; we owe it to them and to ourselves to help them when we can. But we are joined at the hip (or river) and depend on one another in so many ways. People of good faith, on both sides of the Rio Grande, will continue to interact and, therefore, to reflect on relations—personal and governmental—on the other side. Both peoples and governments will (or should) increase emphasis on extending and improving inter-American relations. We all need help.

So, que VIVA! Long live Gaspár, Melchór, and Baltazár! Ok, maybe bring us a little more gold, but forget the frankincense and myrrh for now. May the gifts of the Three Kings include science and social peace (and Evangelicals acting like, say, Christians? on January 6, January 20 and beyond?) Maybe too much to hope for? We can always hope for a belated Christmas Wish and Day of the Kings miracle! Pray hard! And enjoy your Rosca

Editor’s Note: The above guest column was penned by Dr. Gary Joe Mounce, a writer and educator based in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas. He can be reached via email at: [email protected] 

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