Dec 24: Christmas Eve in the Barrio

If you were paying attention back at the beginning, you’ll know that one of reasons for this trip was to re-evaluate our lifestyle and to give us the opportunity to make some major changes. Christmas was just one such example. Although it hasn’t been easy to be away from family and friends, it has been a lot easier to re-write our activities from scratch. So we have swung to just about the other extreme in terms of Christmas simplicity.

Slippery Roads

Slippery Roads

We have and still are wrestling with how to make Christmas as memorable for our kids as it was for us, while moving away from the commercialization and other seasonal distractions. The simplicity of this year will hopefully allow us to evaluate what aspects of Christmas are truly meaningful versus those that aren’t.

Christmas Collage

Christmas Collage

So we started by doing a daily advent reading with the kids for most of December. We’ve tried to make it a family fun time by including a simple craft, both parents, and often a junk food treat. The theme we’ve emphasized is birthday in order to draw on other positive memories and  help the kids relate to the significance of Jesus’ birth. Tomorrow this will include a birthday cake, candles, and of course gifts.

Gifts? Yes, we couldn’t drop gifts completely. We have spent a grand total of $119 pesos ($4.10CAD) on two small gifts for the kids. That’s it. Not because we think gift giving is wrong, but because we all really don’t need anything. Again we’re looking for ways to focus on things that matter.

Christmas Decorations

Christmas Decorations

Today we decorated our house for Christmas by hanging a strand of Christmas lights, a bit of tinsel, and a manger-scene collage (the results of the advent readings). We enjoyed a family dinner together (The “Dominican” of course), and played a game of impromptu Christmas trivia for dessert. Nicole and I were even able to watch our home church Christmas eve service online which was a lot of fun.

Now it’s bedtime for us, while the Barrio sounds like a typical weekend. Of course the music is playing and there is a bit more shouting than usual. The only big difference is the significant increase in firecracker activity, and some small fireworks displays. On previous nights the firecrackers were set off one at a time while tonight there are regular strings of 4-5. The atmosphere is much more festive/celebratory than at home and the Christmas activities are focused equally (or maybe even more) on time with friends than with family. It doesn’t look like it will be white Christmas for us though…

Wishing you a merry Christmas that opens your eyes a bit more to the significance of what Jesus did for you.

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