Where do I even begin?  I’ve been in Mexico City for four days and the three words that come to mind are: OVERWHELMED WITH LOVE.  As most of you know, I am here for a family reunion that has been in the works for some time.  My mother, Georgia Mary Kneeland, has quite the family history.  She has 9 siblings whom all have the same father, Russell Kneeland, an Irishman who sailed the high seas and became well-known for building an 86-foot schooner named Kaiulani.  Four of my mother’s siblings have a different mother, but the beautiful thing is that my mom and all of her siblings shared the same love and affection for her as their own mother.  Sadly, my grandfather has since passed as has my mother’s step-mother.  My mom and her siblings were raised in Mexico City by my Mexican grandmothers and their Irish father in a very strict Catholic household.  Once they turned 18, they all went their separate ways and moved to various parts of the world including Texas (where I was born and raised), Guatemala, Bali, California, and some even stayed here in Mexico.  I am very fortunate to have been included in a family where travel and culture are a huge part of life.  One of my earliest memories is being at my grandfather’s vacation home in Acapulco and swimming with my cousins while we ate mangos and watched iguanas run around the garden.  My whole life has been filled with tales of my grandfather’s travels around the world, and of his father’s (Eustace Kneeland) travels and his arrival from the U.S. to Mexico City where he heard there was money to be made.  It’s been such a truly beautiful and enriching experience learning about the history of my mother’s side of the family.  I learned that William Wallace‘s mother was a Kneeland which kind of blew my mind, to say the least.  And I’ve seen so many relatives (nearly 80 at the reunion) that I haven’t seen since I was very young and have met many relatives that I have been hearing about for years.  I feel so grateful to come from such a unique family and even more grateful that I’ve been raised to be so close to my aunts, uncles and cousins.  So, that’s a little bit of family history for you, and I’ll begin with photos of Thanksgiving dinner at my Great Aunt Della’s house.  She’s The Matriarch.  The Queen.  The 88-year-old lady in the truest sense of the word.  The bombshell who still gets dressed up and does her hair and make-up every day.  The woman who can still throw back a cocktail.  The goddess who has lived quite a life.  The one I idolize.  I hope you enjoy My View From Mexico – more to come!

My Great Aunt Della

Thanksgiving dinner hosted by Aunt Della at her home, next door to where my mother grew up.

The table settings

A feast of fruit

My cousins

Mom!

Total surprise – in the middle of dinner a mariachi band busted thru the door and started playing and singing for nearly an hour

My aunt Lorraine who came all the way from Germany, my uncle Eamonn and my youngest cousin Iam who live in Mexico City.

The day after Thanksgiving was the big reunion at Yvonne and Jimmy’s house, next door to my Great Aunt Della.  Jimmy is my mom’s cousin.  It was all about family, yes, but it was also all about FOOD.  Two kinds of sausages being grilled above.

Carnitas and pollo

Nopales salad, chorizo, homemade tortillas

That’s my plate.  I don’t even eat meat, and I ate meat like nobody’s biz.  But wait, there’s more…

Baskets of Mexican sweets were put on every table.  Sugar overload but oh so worth it. Shredded coconut limes were my favorite.

Cuzzies

Mi familia

This is the house where my mom and her siblings grew up.  It’s next to my Great Aunt Della’s house, on the same block.  My mom’s cousin Sylvia took some of us to the house that is now being remodeled so that they can rent it out.  It was an emotional experience for my mom and her brothers and sisters.  My mom remembered so many details, like the way their beds were arranged and where their slide and swing set were set up in the backyard.

Sylvia and my Aunt Jennifer reminiscing

My Aunt Lorraine said that my Aunt Jennifer used to have nightmares about spiders in their room!

Pretty epic to visit the house and imagine their lives back then.  If walls could talk!

We had a slideshow of photos at night and one of my cousins broke down the family history.

And then it was all about the mariachi band

And of course more food.  This is where the kids hung out, next to the churro station…

And the cotton candy.  This is where I also hung out, not gonna lie.

And there was a tamale and empanada station later in the evening, another popular hang out.

I ate this gigantic tamale covered in the spiciest salsa ever, followed by a potato empanada. After this, things started to get WILD as they normally do with my family. The bartenders ran out of wine so everyone resorted to tequila, whiskey and rum, which in turn led to lots of dancing to Queen and salsa music.  The party went on until 4 a.m.  Stay tuned for Part Two!