We attempted to have a traditional family Christmas, but that is pretty difficult. I never realized how much your traditions are tied to your culture and your location! For example, I brought all of my family recipes with me so I could make our traditional Christmas meal, but some critical ingredients are not available here (like cornmeal, or pumpkin pie filling, or Velveeta, or ham, etc.). We attempted to recreate our family Christmas dinner and substitute ingredients, but it just wasn't the same. Trust me, no one ate seconds or wanted leftovers for dinner!
We went to our church on Christmas Eve. It was a lot of fun to sing traditional Christmas carols in Spanish with a very latin beat and musical rendition to them! No one would ever dream of dimming the lights and lighting candles during a Costa Rican singing of "Silent Night"! It was rockin'!!! All of the Sunday School classes did something - sang a song or did a dance or acted out a part of the nativity story. Sarah's class sang a song and did a ribbon dance, then they led the congregation in singing Feliz Cumpleanos to Jesus (Happy Birthday) and they opened a big gift box and let helium balloons out. The whole service was very upbeat and celebratory and fun.
Last night was like living in a war zone... the fireworks in our neighborhood rivaled any war in the Middle East, I'm sure! The house actually shook during a lot of it! The most action was at midnight - the traditional "time" to celebrate Christmas here. It is traditional here to wait until midnight to eat Christmas dinner and open gifts with family. Also, the baby Jesus doesn't appear in your nativity scene until midnight on Christmas Eve. All of the nativity scenes in town have been "waiting" on their centerpiece - the baby Jesus! I love that!
So we survived our first Christmas totally away from Texas and family and friends. It was different, that's for sure. We miss everyone and we miss our traditions, but we survived. Good news... Jesus is still Jesus, no matter where we are or what culture we are learning or what language we are speaking. That will NEVER change - Hallelujah! Feliz Navidad!