Before I became part of the NPH family, my life was focused on surviving and keeping my dreams alive. There was no room for celebrations of any kind. Christmas was an annual routine in which I only ate and drank, taking advantage of the fact that there were people who shared with those less fortunate. It was full of loneliness, sadness and melancholy of not having a family to call my own.
But I came to NPH and my life changed, especially Christmas, which is more joyful and spiritual. Growing up with Father Wasson, he told us one day that Christmas is about hearing, smelling, seeing, eating, but above, feelings.
He told us that during Christmas, songs full of joy and love were sung and that these songs heal the soul of the abandoned, of those who suffer and who cured the hate in our hearts. We, as a family, sing to forget our sorrows and remember that a child is about to be born and our hope has not been in vain. We shared these songs with the elderly, children and workers.
By logic, we need to smell, Fr. Wasson said, because it is a season where we all prepare the best food to share with the family and our neighbors, and the NPH children have learned this because they share the little they have with their brothers and sisters and also with the one who are need in the community. We share our food and joy.
During this season, we strengthen ourselves as a family. We are all looking for ways to decorate our home and make it look like never before: Christmas trees, lights, piñatas, Christmas sticks, and Advent wreaths, while always remembering the birth of Jesus. The children and staff prepare the manger where the child is born at midnight.
In Nicaragua, we cannot have a Christmas without the nacatamales*, stuffed chicken, a leg of pork, eggnog, among others. Our young university students come a day early to prepare it and everyone does their best to share as a family and wait for their coming. We eat before the babe is born and then we sing until midnight.
But Fr. Wasson said that the most important thing was to let Jesus be born in each of our hearts and let him work so that we would be good “Pequeñas” and “Pequeños”.
They are now my Christmases, “posadas” activities*, food, songs, sharing, serving, midnight Mass, above all the child born. What more can I ask of the child of God if He has given me what I wanted most: an extended NPH family.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year and thank you so much for giving this second family to those of us who thought we didn’t deserve it.
* a tamale made with corn dough and chicken or pork, and wrapped in plantain leaves
** The Posadas is a religious festival celebrated in many parts of Latin America in December, commemorating the journey that Joseph and Mary made from Nazareth to Bethlehem in search of a safe refuge. At NPH, children often give gifts to members of the community.