Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Christmas: a Season of Celebration

A few weeks ago, I was really bummed about Christmas because I knew I would be away from my family. I figured I would sit at home and do nothing, as people in my pueblo don't really celebrate apart from the Christmas service at church. In Quito there are Christmas trees, nativity scenes, lights, the whole works, but here when I ask people what their Christmas plans are, they say "sin novedad", meaning without novelty, in other words, nothing different or special. It makes me kind of sad. I decorated a bit in my apartment and listened to Christmas music to get in the spirit, but I couldn't help feeling homesick as the final days of December approached.

At the mall in Quito

In the midst of preparing two Christmas programs, I began to realize all of the commercialism we associate with Christmas in the United States. Santa Claus, bright lights, candy, Rudolph, etc. I definitely won't deny that I love this part of Christmas (especially the music!) and it gives me a warm feeling inside. However, I think the warm feeling truly comes from seeing families together, singing carols, worshiping our newborn Savior, remembering the nativity scene and what it signifies. Without this, all the decorations and gifts to show our love would be worthless. No matter who we're with, we can celebrate the beautiful season of God's greatest gift to us.

This Sunday we had the Christmas worship service at my church here in Romerillos. We sang a couple of Christmas songs, lit the Advent candles, and the pastor shared a wonderful message about Jesus' birth. Afterwards I had planned a simple program for the kids. We only had about 10, but they enjoyed it. We sang Christmas songs, made a wreath craft with stickers, and watched a short movie about the nativity story. Then we chatted a bit and gave the kids gift bags. I think it was a good start to doing more programs with the kids in the future. We want to start next year doing an event each Saturday afternoon. Here are some pictures of what we did:

Last Saturday, I still didn't have plans for Christmas. Then my friend Rebeca who helped with the kids in El Prado invited me to come with her to Santo Domingo, where her family lives. I was very grateful for her invitation, and decided to go with her. I stayed with her family through Christmas Day, and though it was still a very different Christmas, it was good. Santo Domingo is in the coastal region (not on the beach though), so it is hot and humid. On Christmas Eve we had a turkey dinner, complete with rice and what they call Russian salad (which is basically potatoes, carrots, and peas mixed together, served warm). That day we went to the river and walked around town a bit, and didn't get back until 5:30, only then putting in the turkey to bake. Hence dinner was served promptly at midnight. Hehe. On Christmas Day we went to the mall and the movies (a new experience for me, since these places are not open on Christmas in the U.S.!). In addition to getting to know Rebeca's family, I got some cuddle time with two cute kitties. All in all, 'twas a jolly holiday!

Rebeca and I at the river

Cool lizard that ran across my feet!

Rebeca with her nieces and me

With Clara, the kitty :)

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