A Mexican Birthday Party

In Mexico, attending a kid’s birthday party is a special event. It’s something the whole family looks forward to.

Back in the U.S. when I would throw a birthday party for my daughter the parents of the attending kids would show up and drop off their children; they’d ask when they needed to come back and they’d speed off. One or two moms would stick around to help but people didn’t pretend that it was a”real” party. And the whole thing was over in no more than 2½ hours.

In Mexico, a child’s birthday party is as much for the parents as it is for the kids. It is a real party. So when the parents come with their kids they don’t consider just dropping the kids off, they stick around, they have a beer, and another, they talk too much and they stay.

Yesterday I attended the first birthday of Daniella, the sweet daughter of Steve and Jannet, the owners of CancunCare.com. The party had at least as many adults as children in attendance. Jannet kept stomachs happy with a scrumptious spread of food and Steve kept the cold beer flowing.

In Mexico, no birthday party would be complete without the breaking of a piñata full of candy, and Daniella’s birthday was no exception.

The piñata is hung by a rope over a beam somewhere high, then someone holds the rope and randomly raises and lowers the piñata while someone else whacks it with a bat.

It used to be that a piñata was a clay vessel wrapped in paper and when it broke it would shatter. Nowadays piñatas are made from much safer papier mâché or, more often, layers of cardboard. This means they can be extremely hard to break open. The parents always get the little kids to take the first few hits on the thing. But eventually everyone gets tired of watching the unbreakable piñata take the children’s minor blows. So at some point someone always suggests that a stronger person give it a whack.

Well Daniella’s piñata was virtually unbreakable. All the kids took multiple whacks at it but it showed no wear at all. Finally Steve, who towers over Mexico with his tall English frame, started hitting the thing. He hit it and he hit it harder and he hit it again and harder. And the thing would not break. And he hit it harder and the person holding the rope stopped moving the piñata so he could take better aim, and the thing wouldn’t break. Then he hit it so hard that the bat broke. But he was driven and he picked up the longer end of the broken bat and he starting the beating anew. He beat the hell out of that piñata and I swear I thought he was going to pull out his back. Then he gave it one final massive blow and crack! The rest of the bat broke in his hand! At that point he gave up.

I was laughing so hard I almost peed. And I had to walk away at that point, not able to watch the inevitable next step which was that someone had to start ripping the unbreakable piñata apart by hand, tearing it limb from limb.

The kids came to me a few minutes later laden with the deceased piñata’s candy, which was seemingly no worse for wear despite the intense mixing job it had been through.

After about 4½ hours my daughter came to me and said that she was partied-out and wanted to go home. But a few minutes later she rallied and was able to find another, second, or third or forth wind and keep going awhile longer.

Finally, after about 6 hours the kids were all exhausted, the beer was just about gone and the parents were tired of their tired children. Everyone packed up and called it a party. Another sucessful Mexican Birthday Party!

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