A rainy day brings me fond memories of my childhood at home in Nicaragua. A long war was ending as I grew up on the streets in San Judas, in the 80’s. My father had died on a plain crash when I was 3 months old, and my Uncle, (My dad’s brother) had taken me as his own. My family was not the most prosperous financially but they sure were very generous, loving and creative. One of the best memories I have is Christmas. My Tia used to give us pen and paper to write letters to Santa, letters that were added as decor on the Christmas tree that we had engineered, we asked for dolls and bikes, I always asked to have daddy back…and I also, I love robots so I asked for the white dude in “Gobots” he was my crush… though Santa was low on cash for some Christmas, we did with anything that he provided us with … plus we knew it was our Abuelita and Tia who purchased things for us, so we never complained… we were happy kids my cousins and I.
Our Christmas tree was a well selected branch from our Mango tree, it had to have all the little twigs that would make hanging ornaments on it successful… after a trip up the mango tree, our Tia would give us long cotton rolls which we carefully wrapped around the long branch from bottom to top… but… before we started the “travesia” we had to find an old bucket, filled it with dirt and cover it with any gift wrap allusive to the occasion on which to rest the branch… we also got the collection of boxes of matches that we have been keeping for months out of the drawers in my Abuelita’s old pantry, any silver gift wrap from any birthday present we have received was carefully folded and put away for this big day when we created and decorated our Christmas tree, the boxes of matches made beautiful gift like décor, we wrapped them with the silver gift wrap from our birthday gifts and sometimes with old news paper and then we hanged the boxes, I mean the pretend gifts on the tree, and the lights were not the best ones but they sure looked wonderful to us, we manage to fix those lights every year and when half of them died, we used our creativity to hide the part that was no longer working and stretched the good part all the way to the top of the tree where a beautiful start made of an old box reminded us of Bethlehem and what had happened there, Our Saviour was born!
My Abuelita used to have a “Nacimiento” a Nativity scene under the tree, it was made of Russians soldiers, and other toys that my biological father collected in his trips… little cow and a few sheep and shepherds, mother Mary and Joseph and a little manger sorrounded with a collection of Cuban stuff… yeah, they all stood before the King of Glory that wouldn’t show up until Dec 24th at midnight as my Abuelita’s tradition went, no one ever caught Abuelita placing the King on His “Cuna” she sneaked out of the crowd… when it is 12 midnight in Nicaragua we enjoy fire works…on Christmas eve, people comes out of their homes to hug and wish the neighbors a Merry Christmas, then everyone goes back to their homes to eat dinner and dance, some close friends would stay with us and party until 4 am 🙂 that moment was the magic moment, Abuelita had placed the King of Glory, baby Jesus in the Cuna and when we walked into the house we found the real gift of Christmas under the tree, a 2 inches baby Jesus, that we loved because of what it represented.
Christmas growing up in San Judas was a great event, we knew that some how we would get a new outfit for Christmas or two if we were lucky. I remember the struggle our Abuelita and Tia went thru to get us good food and though it was hard work to get ingredients, making our Christmas meal was an amazing time, but even better sharing the little we had with our friends. There were no Christmas trees at the stores, nor much food to eat… but the war was ending and people were taking back their hope and expectations for life and so were we.
As the years went by we could afford a plastic Christmas tree and some decoration we did not have to make, I am very proud to be a Ramirez and a Nicaraguan, a citizen of the most dangerous places in Managua, where I have seen the Love of my Saviour manifested thousands times, I am a girl from the Barrio and I love it. I have all kinds of memories from my childhood in Nicaragua and this one is like a treasure.
I hope your Christmas is amazing, May the Saviour of the world be born in every heart and mind who does not know Him.