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Dear Mexican: I was driving home on old King Road in San Jose, where a bunch of Mexicans live, and I noticed that almost every house had their Christmas lights still hanging from the rafters, and reindeer and Santa Claus decorations weathered by the hot sun on the roofs--it was the middle of May, ¿qué onda? I took it one step further, 'cuz I figure I have to have another source for my research. I went down on White Road (but only browns live there!). Same thing--X-mas lights hanging. Is my gente so festive that it's hard to get over the holiday cheer? I mean, my mom would give me nalgadas if I didn't take ours down the day after the Reyes came and went. Your thoughts on this holiday phenomenon?

Confused Wab

Dear Wab: Mexicans never get over the Navidad, because we never stop partying--everyone knows that! In fairness, our celebration of the winter holidays goes on much longer than gabacho Christians. We start off with Las Posadas, a re-creation of Mary and Joseph's search for lodging in Bethlehem that occurs daily for eight days up until Christmas Eve and always involves caroling, piñatas and pozole. Christmas Eve brings the rosary at an aunt's house, tamales and flirting with your second cousin; Misa del Gallo (Rooster's Mass) celebrates the birth of the Nazarene at midnight and follows with more food. The actual Christmas holiday is an afterthought, because Mexican kiddies traditionally don't receive their presents until Jan. 6--what gabachos call Epiphany, and Mexicans deem el Día de los Reyes Magos (the Feast Day of the Magi). Then comes the cruelest form of child abuse Mexican parents can inflict on their niños--giving them an Xbox 360 package stuffed with ... underwear and socks.

I asked you a question a couple of months ago. I don't regularly read your column, so can you e-mail me to let me know when it's going to run?

Chula in Chula Vista

Dear Readers: For my year-end column, I usually run a question in which someone calls me a pussy for not answering their misspelled rant. But over the past year, I've received variants of the above pregunta much more often. The answer ultimately remains the same: patience, gabachos, negritos, chinitos, mariposas, wabs and everyone else who reads this column. Patience.

The ¡Ask a Mexican! archive now contains about 260 pages of preguntas I've yet to answer. To specifically contestar the above question: Lo siento, but I will not alert you when I finally get to your query--who do you think I am, a pinche Google alert? Nor will I individually answer you, as that would cut into my salary, and I'd then have to take up a second job at the corner near 7-Eleven selling fake phone cards. However, my promise remains: I will eventually respond in my column, whether in a week or in a couple of years. It's your duty to read the Mexican, week in, week out, until I get there, and to continue to spread my Gospel in the meantime.

And ustedes have done an amazing job of that. This year has seen the Mexican invade 39 newspapers so that more than 2 million people read the dead-tree edition of this column, with muchos more online. Gracias, thank you, thank you for all of your nice words and angry screeds (and thanks especially to the spicy señoritas who become my MySpace friends); without your support, I'd be fighting a Guatemalan for a broom.

The Mexican will be in Mexico next week trying to smuggle the last of his relatives into los Estados Unidos, so a "best of" column will appear in its place; after that, it's back to your queries about dwarves, anal sex and what they have to do with corn tortillas. Feliz Navidad, Próspero Año Nuevo, and don't let la migra catch you!

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