Friday, January 1, 2010

A Honduran Christmas

Hola Amigos!

Almost all of the kids are on vacation, so it has been really quiet around here. Most of the kids will be back on Friday and I am SO excited. I was not aware of just how much I would miss them. I find myself thinking about them all the time- wondering what they are doing and if they are OK. I know that for a lot of them, their home lives are not that great (which is why they are here), so I worry about them. Needless to say, I don't know who will be happier that they are back- me or them.

A mom and her three kids and one girl from Guadalupe, the girl's boarding facility, have been here the whole time. The six of us have become like a little family in the last month. We have done lots of fun things together that we wouldn't have been able to do if all the kids had been here. I have really enjoyed getting to know these kids better.

Anyways, I am sure that you want to hear about Christmas in Honduras, so here it is:

*A few days before Christmas, I had the kids that were here come over and make sugar cookies. Decorating sugar cookies was a tradition in my family, so I thought I would try it with them. They were skeptical at first (one even asked if we could watch a movie instead), but once I showed them what to do, they got into it and were good little bakers. I had already made the dough and baked some of the cookies so they could start decorating right away. I had them take turns helping me roll out the dough and cut out the cookies. I tried to find Christmas cookies cutters but couldn't so we made mini animals that I think were made for use with Play-Doh and circles (with a plastic cup as the cookie cutter). They thought it was a pretty cool process. One girl was very good at rolling out the dough and cutting out the cookies. Eventually I just let her do it and I worked on the other things. We ran out of frosting (tragedy) halfway through the cookies. Luckily I remember reading about painting cookies before baking them. So I ran and got the recipe and we painted the cookies. They turned out really cute. It was so much fun to do something that for me was tradition with kids who had never experienced it. They liked it so much that the next day they asked when we were going to do it again. I wasn't planning on it, but next week we are going to make cookies to give the kids and moms as "welcome back" treats. They are counting down the days until we make more "galletas."

* Christmas Eve, we had Mass at the high school and then afterwards we ate tamales (the traditional Honduran Christmas food) and drank hot chocolate. Any kids that were still around as well as APUFRAM staff members and their families attended. It was fun and the food was delicious. The kids had never had hot chocolate before and were scared to drink it because it was hot. Even after 15 minutes, they wouldn't drink it. I finally showed them how to blow on it to cool it off and then to just take a sip. Once they figured out how to drink it without burning their mouths, they couldn't stop. They kept going back for more:) We stayed out pretty late, which was a big deal for the kids. We all slept in on Christmas morning.

* Christmas Day, we had a huge feast at the high school. It was very "Americanized"- turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, baked beans, corn, etc- but it was so good. Again, most of this was new food for the kids, but once they tried it they liked it. We all left with very full tummies and big smiles on our faces.

In the evening, the kids and I had "our" Christmas celebration. I brought over some of the cookies we made, we watched a Christmas movie and I gave them a couple little gifts. That is when it really felt like Christmas. When they got their gifts, they didn't even know what to do. I had to tell them to open them and see what was inside. They were just little things from the dollar store (a doll, a foam ball, a Princess toy, a bracelet, etc.), but they acted like they got a shiny new bike. Their faces when they open the presents were priceless. I almost cried watching them look at their new toys. These were the only gifts they got for Christmas and they were so happy. They hardly ever get "new" things, so they didn't even want to take them out of the package at first. But after a while, they were playing with them and thinking of all the things that these little toys could become. Did you know that a "slap" bracelet could also be a telephone and a spoon and a runway for a Barbie doll? Being with these kids on Christmas was such a blessing. It reminded me what Christmas is all about. It is not about the biggest presents or the perfect celebrations, but about being with people you love and sharing the joy and peace of the season.

I hope that all of you had a wonderful Christmas and a Happy New Year wherever you were. May God bless us all in the coming year!

Peace and Blessings,