Living near the IH 35 corridor, we are witness to an interesting phenomena which is repeated each year around Christmas without fail. Long caravans of travelers, their cars but mostly trucks loaded to the gills with items which they take back to their homeland as gifts, inch their way along our nation's highways. This yearly exodus starts as early as Thanksgiving, but climaxes just days short of December 25. You can easily spot the 'Paisano' because their cars bear license plates from every state of the Union, and always bearing gifts such as bicycles, microwaves, tvs, furnishings, etc. Along their route, they spend money on food and lodging, an added boost to our weak economy.
So important has this event become, that the Mexican government has even set up a web page to help their countrymen make the return trip home safe. In addition to the basic services these weary travelers are offered, such as forms and documentation for their crossing into Mexico, they are also given helpful information for reporting the well known abuse and corruption to which they fall victim at the hands of Mexican officials. It is a sad thing to admit, but after many suffer discrimination and low wages here in our country, they then have to suffer more injustices at the hands of their own customs, police, and various other law enforcement agencies who try to extort money from them. Perhaps Mexico is trying to change that image that its government has long been known for- the infamous "mordida" or 'bite' that they inflict by demanding money in exchange for letting them go through without problems. The government endorsed web page plus various other messages advocating honesty and transparency have certainly helped with the tarnished image. In any case, it's a little awe inspiring to me to see how in spite of their travel woes, these people still look forward to the long journey home.
For me, the sight of these vehicles driving bumper to bumper along our expressway helps me see that the Christmas spirit is alive and well. Christmas trees being toted in trunks of cars, Holiday decorations all around, people bundled up warmly, their breathing visible in the cold air, the excitement in children's voices all remind me that the Holidays are a magical time. We may be suffering from a bad economy, job shortages, our troops fighting in foreign lands, and all the sadness that because this is Christmas we are more keenly aware of, yet in seeing that some things never change regardless, I am filled with hope. Because whether in times of abundance or times of lack, people have a way of looking beyond the difficulties and can hope for better days. So even if material gift giving is not possible, the gift of self goes a long way. That is also something positive these Paisanos remind me of. I love this time of year!
Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. ~Philippians 4:8~