Sorry Kids! We deleted Santa and the Tree...
Are you struggling financially?
I know some places that can help with the holidays...
Ah but the problem is nobody is sad here. When we broke the news about un-commercializing our Christmas this year the kids were actually excited.
May be due to the fact they see gifts and electronics as a basic part of their every day lives that making arts and crafts actually seemed really fun! It could also be that they are still little.
I was surprised that most of the dissent on our idea came from people outside our family. They were so stressed for the kids. But let me clarify, the kids have known since before we sent the text to our family and friends and they are happy with it.
One afternoon Nati came home and said, "Are we putting up a Christmas tree?", I responded, "Nope, member were doing something different this year." She was eager to help me come up with our Christmas decorations.
We deleted Santa and the tree. (El Niño Dios o Los Reyes Magos will bring our gifts this year.) We kept the fireplace and stockings because they remind us of the warmth we like for visitors to feel in our home.
Instead, we decided to adopt a popular South and Central American tradition where El Pesebre o El Nacimiento (the manger) takes center stage. In Colombia it is traditionally used to reunite the family, one figure or part of it is added every night until La Noche Buena dinner. (Christmas Eve)
En Guatemala (my husband's Dad is from Guate) the pesebres use the traditional ways of the Mayan people, and many Mayan artisans make the figures from clay. The Nacimiento has clay houses, shepherds, sheep, roads, greenery and a lot more elements, maybe next time we can get one of those!
Back to Colombia, the novena which starts 9 days before Christmas is usually done around the Pesebre to commemorate the reason for the season, Jesus Christ. During the novena the family gets together and has light refreshments and listens to the traditional Christian story of Christmas, as recited in the Bible. After the story is read, everyone sings Villancicos and convive as a family.
This tradition is comparable to the Mexican posada, where something similar is done in the nights leading up to Christmas. In posadas though, the nativity figurines are carried on a tray while reenacting their search for lodging as they stop at different homes and sing Villancicos. In some parts of Mexico, children dress up as Mary and Joseph and travel by donkey to represent the Nativity scene. When we were little we did this once with our church group.
In general, setting up our Pesebre reminded me of El Niño Dios and the importance that Latinos place on the true reason Christians celebrate Christmas. It is a time to give thanks for family and to celebrate new life, new beginnings and new hope.
Some Latino Christmas Trivia: Can you figure out who is missing from this picture?
El Niño Dios doesn't come until La Noche Buena so traditionally he is not added into the nativity scene until that night.