Friday, December 5, 2008

Christmas traditions

At work, we have an internal newsletter that features different employees every month, and depending on the time of the year, different recipes, ideas, traditions.

For the December newsletter they asked that we submit our traditional New Year's celebrations. We have people from all over the world here so it should be interesting to see what everyone does for New Years.

This time of the year has always been my favorite. As a child, I remember how exciting it was to decorate the house for Christmas. One year, our entire neighborhood decorated the street with lights, and we made sure our house was decorated to match.
Christmas Eve is a big deal back in Panama. There is Midnight Mass, and most families attend mass together, to celebrate the birth of Christ. Mass usually starts around 11:00 PM and ends by midnight. Afterwards everyone heads home, to celebrate. There is food, and neighbors go to each others homes to say Feliz Navidad. The kids get to stay up late, and of course, no presents are "delivered" until after everyone is sleep.

I guess you can say we like to party back home because New Years is a big deal too. There is more food, music, our entire neighborhood would become a huge street party. At midnight, everyone goes outside to wish each other a Happy New Year.

I miss the holidays back in Panama. I miss welcoming our neighbors to the house, sharing a bit of food and happy wishes with them, I miss attending Midnight Mass at the Cathedral, I miss home.

But new traditions are emerging as my children get older. For the past 3 years, one of Santa's elves delivers a special package on Christmas Eve. The elves are very busy, so they usually ring the doorbell and leave before we can get to the door. Inside the package, there are pajamas for each member of the family. These aren't your normal pajamas, you know. They come from the North Pole, and they are magic. They help Santa work "his magic" on Christmas night.
I can't wait to hear the doorbell this year, and watch Candace rush to the door to retrieve the package.

We have a Nativity scene in the center of our home to remind us of the real reason we celebrate Christmas. We bake cookies for Santa and we write a note for him to read as he is eating his cookies. For the past few years, he has even left footprints inside our house, since the fireplace had ashes in there.

As they get older, I hope to incorporate more traditions, like Midnight Mass, and Christmas Carols in Spanish.

It's beginning to feel a lot like Christmas now that the weather has turned cold. It's time to let the magic of this season touch our hearts and get ready to celebrate with our families.


Nicole Bradshaw said...

I love Christmas, too! Your traditions sound sooo much fun! Sometimes, I wish that American culture was more group-oriented. We do so many things either alone or only with our closest friends and family. I'm all for opening up our celebrations a bit!

Sandi said...

There is something special about Midnight Mass. It brings home the real meaning of Christmas and teaches kids that there's a lot more to it than just opening presents.

From the Doghouse said...

What Nicole said.