Christmas looks very different here in Mexico. I mean it physically looks different. Having grown up in Saskatchewan my entire life, Christmas just comes with snow. Christmas lights glitter against the frosty trees and fireplaces glow as a backdrop for our giant puzzles and games of scrabble. I have spent the past few Christmases here in Mexico so I am getting used to palm trees and beaches – but it doesn’t feel quite the same. Last night Christmas felt a bit like home.
After spending most of the afternoon playing games with the dozen children who were still at the orphanage, we returned in the evening for a family Christmas evening. We pulled the couches around the giant donated TV, popped some popcorn, turned off all the lights and cuddled together to watch a movie about the true story of Christmas – the birth of baby Jesus. Daniella was tucked tightly under my arm and she was engrossed with the story – especially excited when the angels appeared. As we watched, I realized that THIS FELT LIKE CHRISTMAS. At one point, Daniella looked out the open doorway – no frosty glass blocks our view here – and pointed at a super bright star. “Mira – la Estrella!” Look. The Star. When baby Jesus was finally born, the children all applauded. This is what Christmas is about. Knowing that Jesus was born to care for the ‘least of these’. Knowing that we get to share in the journey with him as we care for these little ones.
Of course, like every family every soft special moment is interspersed with the ‘real’ moments. Under my other arm was mischievous Perla (My name is Perla now…. I was Mona when I was little…consider myself scolded). She was busy pouring chili on her popcorn and you just know that’s going to go bad!
Today my own daughters will be here. Our Swanson family Christmas will begin. Most of our traditions have changed now. There will be no tobogganing, no hash brown casserole, no quiche, no grandparents or extended family. Our stack of gifts will be much smaller.
But the essence has not changed. Baby Jesus will still guide our way and the star will remind us of that first simple Christmas. Meigan and Brett will join us at the orphanage to play with their ‘siblings’. And Brett will probably beat us in a game of Scrabble Slam …. Cause that’s just what we Swanson’s do.
Have a blessed Christmas Eve my friends!