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27th December
written by Michelle


Dear Mija,

You’re 6 months old and doing fun things like siting up all by yourself, babbling and trying to pull yourself up. We spent a week in California at Nana & Papa’s and you seemed to especially like the lights on the tree and the big closet door mirrors. You weren’t so sure about Santa Claus, but you loved the extra hugs and kisses and I loved that there were extra arms to hold you for your naps. (yes, you still prefer to nap while being held. I have a love hate relationship with this fact)

This year we celebrated Christmas in Guatemala with Mama Hia and Papa Choyo and your tios and primos. In Guatemala Christmas means tamales & chuchitos, warm ponche and plates of grapes and red apples. There are fireworks for sale on every corner and your cousins know all the different types. There are fosforitos and chiltepitos, bombas and pistolitas and my personal favorite, estrellitas. I imagine one day you too will learn all the names for the different types. We went to Christmas Eve service at the church in San Antonio where your daddy grew up. You dressed up as an angel and had your first stage debut. We sang glo-o-o-o-o-O-o-o-o-o-O-o-o-o-o-O-ria (and by “sang” I mean lip-synced because mama’s voice really can’t do too many glorias). And then you slept nicely in my arms through the rest of the service.


Your Daddy and I haven’t really decided what Christmas traditions we want to keep as a family. Will we get a big tree and decorate our house? Maybe we’ll just do 3 gifts each? Most Guatemalan kids just get one gift- if that- and it’s usually something like new shoes or a new outfit. Will we do fire works and stay up till midnight on la nochebuena? I can make ponche, but haven’t yet mastered tamales. I like the idea of having stockings and cinnamon rolls and staying in our pjs on Christmas Day. Daddy likes the idea of giving gifts that are an experience, like going or doing something together as a family.


Mija, what I want you to know is that no matter whether we celebrate Christmas in Guatemala or in California or weather we eat cinnamon rolls or tamales or both, Christmas is really about something so much bigger.

It’s about a little baby. A little baby who came into the world just like you. A little baby boy who was born in a humble stable, probably surrounded by animals and hay and a tired and very sore mama. A baby boy who was Emmanuel, God with us.
It’s about how God sent his son, Jesus.
Sweetie, I won’t tell you I understand how all of this works. But I will tell you, that when you have faith to embrace this mystery you’ll realize that this little baby Jesus, really is the best gift.
Because if you want to know what God is like, you can look at Jesus.
There is a writer I really like. She has written a few books, but this is one of my favorite things she has written. It’s a Christmas Apology for what we have made the Christmas season into. And she writes about the Jesus that I hope you one day know:

“Jesus, who was born as an oppressed minority in an occupied land,

Jesus who was an immigrant,

Jesus, who surrounded himself with the poor, the sick, the marginalized and the “untouchables,”

Jesus who was criticized by the religious for hanging out with sinners,

Jesus who treated women with dignity and respect,

Jesus who taught his disciples to love their enemies,to give without expecting anything in return, to overcome evil with love,

Jesus who suffered,

Jesus who wept,

[and] Jesus who while hanging on a Roman cross said, “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

Elena, I hope and pray that your daddy and I can show you who this Jesus is. And that at Christmas time while we’re eating tamales and cinnamon rolls, we will celebrate his birth.


Merry 1st Christmas, Mija!

With All My Love,










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