Quilts made by the Winter Texas Grandmas at Casa del Valle are providing valuable comfort to families when their loved one becomes an organ donor at hospitals across the Rio Grande Valley. Since starting a partnership with Texas Organ Sharing Alliance (TOSA), the organ procurement organization that provides organ donation and recovery services for families in Central and South Texas, 20 donor families have received a hand-made quilt.
Seven years ago, Don Uecker of Wisconsin was making funeral arrangements for his wife, Darlene, when he asked family and friends to consider making a financial donation in her honor to the Texas Grandmas group. Years later, his relationship with the group and his volunteer work with TOSA led him to connect the two groups to provide something special for grieving families.
“I know she would have liked this,” Uecker said as the Winter Texans worked around him.
The group collects their fabrics from donations, often times even material from families within the park. The size of the group varies as Winter Texans start returning to the Valley for the season, but often the crafts room has about a dozen people working inside on a variety of tasks to complete a quilt.
Each week the group meets and can complete about 300 quilts in an individual season. They donate their quilts to a number of organizations, but say no matter where they go, they’re happy to know they can bring comfort to families.
“It’s nice for us to have a community for us to serve,” said Sandra Johnson of Ontario, Canada. “It’s good for us to hear how they’re used and know they’re needed.”
TOSA recently was gifted another eight quilts to use for upcoming donor cases. Families often drape the quilt over their loved one and take it home with them once the organ recovery is completed. For many families, the personal touch of the quilts provide them solace that feels like home, which is difficult to come by in the hospital setting.
“They’ve been generous enough to make and donate quilts that are given to families of organ donors,” said Edwina P. Garza, TOSA senior communications coordinator.
Texans are encouraged to register at the Texas Department of Public Safety or the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles. For information on organ donation, community initiatives or to register online, visit TOSA1.org.
Texas Organ Sharing Alliance (TOSA), founded in 1975, is one of 58 federally-designated Organ Procurement Organizations (OPOs) in the United States. TOSA is committed to a mission of saving lives through the power of organ donation by providing organ donation and recovery services to Central and South Texans wishing to donate, and to those waiting for a life-saving organ transplant.
The annual Chanukah Concert and Festival will be celebrated Monday, December23 at Archer Park in downtown McAllen. The festival begins at 4:30 p.m. and a concert starring Jewish pop-sensation Yoni Z will begin at 6 p.m. The event is free and open to the public.
Chanukah, an alternative spelling for Hanukkah, is the Jewish eight-day holiday commemorating the victory of the Jews “against Greek persecution and religious oppression,” according to torah.org. This year, Chanukah is celebrated from the evening of Sunday, December 22 until the evening of Monday, December 30.
Brooklyn-born Yoni Zigelboum, better known as Yoni Z, is topping charts with his catchy tunes about the relationship between man and God. At 28 years old he has already been in music for 13 years. Since 2012, he has toured worldwide. His YouTube channel has over 2.1 million views.
His Jewish ancestry survived the Holocaust. His father is of Eastern European Jewish descent, known as Ashkenazi Jews, and his mother’s family is of Middle Eastern or Mizrahi culture. He, himself, is a Hasidic Jew.
He was chosen as Israel’s Kikar HaShabbat’s Best New Artist of the Year and Music Video for the Israeli video UP in 2018. His first album, released in July 2018, has been called revolutionary for Jewish music. The album consists of 14 original songs that he participated in the songwriting and production on. His music has been released in several languages including Yiddish, English and Hebrew. Most of his music combines the beats of standard Western pop with Mizrahi music.
In the last several issues many traditions - some ten, some fifteen and some twenty years old - have been discussed. The ten-year-old Holiday Village in Brownsville; the fantastic, inflated balloons in the McAllen parade is a three- or four-year-old tradition; the Christmas tree forests in local museums are now traditions.
First of all, what does that word "tradition'· mean? The word comes from Latin meaning the handing down of statements, beliefs, legends, customs or information from one generation to the next. A tradition can be " invented" politically, culturally or strictly for financial reasons - that is to bring more money into your city. Or a tradition can just happen!
Certainly, in my family we have some Christmas traditions. And I bet you have traditions in your family also. In my family, our Christmas traditions start on Christmas Eve with tamales and homemade chili. That meal is probably not a very old tradition in most South Texas border families, but for my family, the tradition probably started forty or fifty years ago.
Regardless of what time the guests leave, and dishes are washed and put away, the next and more important tradition, must be observed. We just must watch The Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens before we turn in for the night.
Christmas day has another set of traditions - one that absolutely exasperates newcomers to the family. All Christmas gifts must be opened one by one and passed all around the room to be admired by all before the next gift can be opened. This process can take all morning - with of course, time out for orange juice, coffee, pan dulce and sausage balls.
Afterwards, the cooks take over with the preparation of at least two traditional presentations - homemade sage dressing and ambrosia (fruit salad). There is no recipe for either of these dishes. The cook goes by looks and taste as the ingredients for the dressing are mixed together - after all, that's how mother did it!
Now my father's contribution to the Christmas dinner was a delicious and HUGE bowl of ambrosia. His words were “you women should let a man make a contribution to the feast.” Little did he know when he started that his contribution would never look quite right to him, so he just kept adding one fruit after another until he had a wash tub full of ambrosia - a perfect complement to all the other Christmas delicacies.
I smile to myself every time I prepare a bowl of ambrosia as I, too, just keep adding another fruit until it looks and tastes just right. Traditions are wonderful - they build memories that last forever and can bring joy and nostalgia to us all.
All of these traditions may be forgotten or replaced in the future. But there is one tradition that hopefully will never be forgotten and will last forever. It is a tradition that is not glitzy nor glittery - perhaps that is why it is not observed as much as in years past.
Las Posadas, possibly the greatest and oldest tradition of all, was brought from Spain to Mexico some 500 years ago. In Spanish, the word "posada" means inn. This tradition re-enacts Mary and Joseph searching for a place for the Christ Child to be born.
In times past, the procession would be led by children dressed as angels followed by Mary riding on a donkey that was led by Joseph. Neither rain, nor cold, nor wind would interfere as the group moved from house to house singing a special song that asked for lodging. Over and over they would be denied until finally a predesignated home would open wide their doors and welcome the group in. This celebration would begin on December 16 and would be repeated for nine consecutive nights until Christmas Eve.
This tradition brings to all of us the true meaning of Christmas. Unfortunately, there are not as many celebrations of Las Posadas as there used to be. Organizing, preparing and taking part in a Posada takes time.
Sometimes we don't make time for the most important tradition of all...the celebration of the true meaning of Christmas. If you are ever invited to a posada, be sure to go. The experience will build a special memory.
I wonder - will this tradition disappear? Will we get too busy to observe this tradition? As we celebrate this special season, will we remember the true meaning of Christmas?
Dawn Moore gave out some simple, but direct, instructions to her golf ball recently, while playing with her Sunday scramble group at Stuart Place Country Club in Harlingen.
A resident of Sun Valley Village with her husband Phil, Dawn made it clear to her ball what its part was in playing for her that day.
“I just told the ball to go right up there and don’t dilly dally around,” she said. “I hit it and the other lady in our group (Pauline Crist) was standing beside me and she said, ‘I think it went in the hole’.”
When the group, which included Bob Dark and Gary Anderson, reached the green and looked in the cup, sure enough that golf ball listened to the commands and obeyed.
“I was pretty sure it was in the cup,” Dawn said. “I watched it land on the green and saw it roll right up there, straight and pretty.”
It was her first hole-in-one after about 10 years of playing. Her husband Phil added jokingly that he has three. It’s because of Phil that Dawn took up golf while they lived in Lake of the Ozarks in Arkansas.
“When he retired, he started playing golf and was leaving me home all the time. All of our friends golfed too,” Dawn said. “So, I decided to take it up as well.”
She was asked what club she used on the 100-yard par-3. She said it was her driver.
“He couldn’t believe I used a driver,” she said. “I’m not a long hitter. But it still went in.”
After the recent ace, she probably won’t be giving it up anytime soon either. However, with the early Christmas present came an ounce of not so great news upon returning to the clubhouse.
“When we got back, they asked if I was part of the hole-in-one club,” she said. “I wasn’t and they told me I could of won $100. I said that was ok because I probably would’ve just bought drinks for everyone in the clubhouse with it anyway.”
The Mission Historical Museum is now accepting entries for its Fourteenth Annual Quilt Show. Entries will be accepted in three categories: Hand-quilted bed quilts; Machine-quilted bed quilts; and Wall hangings. The show is open to all quilters, both Winter Texans and year-round residents.
Quilts will be exhibited in the Museum’s Shary building. Quilts and wall hangings exhibit must be ready to hang with a sleeve for display purposes. Every effort will be made to show the quilts full-length. Any that exceed gallery ceiling height will be shown half-length.
Entries are accepted on a first-in/first accepted basis. Because of limited space, the museum reserves the right to close entries before the deadline. This will allow for the best possible presentation for all entries. To allow for the broadest representation, participants may submit only one item per person.
Any quilt entered in this show within the past five years is not eligible for entry this year. The quilts will be judged by a panel of independent judges, with ribbons awarded for first, second and third places in each category. Best-of-show and Viewers’ Choice ribbons will also be awarded.
Quilts may be entered by submitting an entry form, which is available at the Museum.
Entry forms and quilts will be accepted at the museum through Thursday, January 2, 2020, during the hours of 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, and 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on Saturdays. The museum will be closed December 24, 25, and 31; and on January 1.
Quilts may be pre-registered, and the quilts themselves may be delivered on any date during this time, through the deadline. If you would like to enter your quilt, you are urged to register early, because space is limited.
The show opens on Saturday, January 11, 2020, and runs through Saturday, February 8, 2020. An Awards Reception and Turning of the Quilts program will take place at 2 p.m. on Friday, January 17, 2020.
The Mission Historical Museum is located at 900 Doherty in downtown Mission. Admission is free. For information, call the museum at (956) 580-8646.
As the more than 100 entries into the Weslaco Christmas Parade began to line up in preparation for the 100th year celebration of the city, Bill and Cathy Ackermann found the perfect spot to watch the event
Seated on a corner spot, the Missouri couple, in the Valley for just their second winter, spilled the secret of finding the excellent spot.
“We got here an hour early,” Bill said. “We are looking forward to this.”
Searching out great spots and getting to destinations promptly probably was instilled in Bill (and therefore Cathy) sometime during his 21 years in the Navy, where he operated nuclear reactors on submarines.
“We love the Valley and we love our park,” Cathy said. “There are so many activities to do every day if you want to.”
Bill said he enjoys the RC races even though he hasn’t gotten fully invested with his own car. He said he might do that next year.
“Maybe next year,” echoed Cathy. “Maybe.”
They were just two of the hundreds who lined the parade route last week as part of the Weslaco Centennial celebration, a multi-day celebration that honored everything Weslaco, from the Tinaco Tower to the 1015 onion and the pioneer founding families of the Mid-Valley town that has seen explosive growth over the past decade.
Floats that were community built and decorated passed one by one, carrying politicians, athletes and other well-known Weslaco natives. Among those included Brandon Figueroa, who has held the WBA super bantamweight boxing championship belt since October and previously held the WBA interim title since April 2019.
High school, middle school and elementary school athletes, cheerleaders and bands were also a big hit, all promoting their school colors and mascots (purple Panthers for Weslaco High and black Wildcats for Weslaco East leading the prowl).
And what parade would be complete without a crew from Star Wars as people eagerly anticipate the final installment of that movie series, out this week.
Bruce Duff and his wife are from Buffalo, Missouri and were stationed right at the front of the parade route. They stay at the 1015 park and after the parade were probably going to go do something else they love while in the Valley.
“We love to go out to eat,” Bruce said. “There are so many places.”
Weslaco has a lot to offer and their parade and 100 year celebration showed that Weslaco loves their community.
By Herb Moering
The pre-McAllen parade entertainment at Veterans Stadium on Saturday, Dec. 7, provided a taste of “Valley” musical traditions topped by the appearance of internationally known actor and singer Mane de la Parra.
He was accompanied by a couple hundred fourth and fifth grade students from all the McAllen elementary schools. The music students performed three numbers, two of them with de la Parra. Fourth graders Melanie Navarrete and Alyssa Vazquez, from Fields Elementary School, were excited to have a part in the early evening’s entertainment before several thousand spectators. Navarrete and Vazquez sported Santa hats provided to the students by Reliant Energy as part of the performance.
Opening the program on the field was a McAllen High School Fine Arts ensemble doing a song “Circle of Light,” which featured Alexa Ramirez. The song is from the Lion King Jr. production, which will be presented in mid-January by the students.
They were followed by a quintet from the Valley Symphony Orchestra, playing familiar Christmas songs. The full orchestra has already presented a couple concerts with future dates Feb. 28 and March 27.
A small group of UTRGV music students provided a taste of the popular TubaChristmas, one of the nation’s largest concert performances that was scheduled the next day at the McAllen Convention Center.
And then it was parade time for the largest illuminated and helium balloon spectacle in all of Texas. It included 15 animated floats, 14 marching bands and 39-character balloons.
And among those most interested was Viva Selena Lopez, of McAllen, along with her mother, Mary Jane Lopez. The 24-year-old Viva Selena, who has been quite active in the community, was decked out in a Dallas Cowboys outfit of Number 4 Dak Prescott, the same of type shirt her mother was wearing. They are big Cowboys fans and Viva Selena has attracted the attention of some of the football players. A get-together two years ago went viral on the internet. Her mother said her daughter also is big on the Rio Grande Vipers basketball team, which has taken some interest in the special needs young woman.
Mayor Jim Darling addressed the crowd aboard a butterfly float accompanied by Dallas Cowboys linebacker Jaylon Smith. Other Cowboys riding floats included wide receiver Michael Gallup, defensive tackle Meliek Collins, safety Kavon Frazier, cornerback Byron Jones and retired stars Charles Haley and Ed “Too Tall” Jones. That was in addition to the Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders and team mascot “Rowdy.”
UTRGV President Guy Bailey was given the honor of being the grand marshal for the one and half-mile long parade. Fighter Brandon Figueroa was another celebrity in the parade, plus television and radio personalities, government officials and the Budweiser Clydesdales along with the company’s spotted Dalmatian riding the wagon. One of the festival floats came from the City of San Antonio and there was also a South Korean marching contingent.
And of course, winding up the parade was the jolly old fellow himself, Santa Claus, with Mrs. Claus, riding in the sleigh pulled by the Rudolph-led reindeer.
In keeping with the city’s weekend of celebrating Christmas that Gov. Greg Abbott officially designated McAllen the “South Pole of Texas,” periodic blasts of simulated snow rose into the air as the parade moved around the stadium. But this “snow” fell under ideal climate conditions of pleasant temperatures and a light breeze, perfect for the balloon characters.
The parade and entertainment is part of McAllen’s 40 Days of Christmas celebration. Many of the families coming for the parade also went to nearby Christmas in the Park event, which ran for two days featuring two stages of live entertainment, interactive games, carnival rides, festival food and Santa on hand for pictures. The city’s events also include the Winter Wonderland at the McAllen Convention Center, which continues on various dates through December.