The Christmas season here in Nicaragua feels in many ways the same as it does in North America. Yet, like different regions of the U.S., there are a few cultural adaptations you may find interesting.
Families, friends, and food are, like our tradition, paramount and take center stage in the Granadino celebrations. We get together, we eat too much, and our conversations are filled with laughter. Mostly it is just like sitting around a table in any home in any state reminiscing about the joys of Christmases past and the hope for those yet to come.
One of the big differences is the sound. The crowded murmur of folks shopping is just like home. But we have not been inundated with Mel Torme and Mariah Carey ad nauseam since October. And even in non-pandemic years the crowds are smaller than you might expect in St. Louis or Cincinnati or Indianapolis. But the crucial difference is fireworks and bands.
Every night from the beginning of December until New Year’s Day you can expect a serenade of “bombas” and snare drums every evening until 10 PM and then awakened to the same around 5 AM. Imagine your local high school marching band walking through the set of Apocalypse Now every day. That’s how we celebrate the season; Sitting in our sala, front door wide open, watching the kids shoot off their fireworks. It is a sight to see and an experience unlike many I have witnessed.
I admit that my dog and I have differing views on the cacophony. I look at it as cultural baptism, she is sure the Marines are invading. Sleepless nights and rude awakenings are common during this time of year.
Otherwise we sweat more, bundle less, yet have the same sparkling lights, decorations and crèches.
The community of Expats have their traditions as well. Solicitations of gift baskets and food giveaways are more prevalent. A group I have grown very close to here, who have been practicing social distancing, get together for a luscious meal. Even this year there is no end to the number of welcoming invitations I have received to join in the festivities.
Most of my time, however, is spent planning for the next year.
We have made tremendous strides in 2020 in spite of, and maybe because of, the greatest challenges we have faced since coming here.
We, like everyone else, cannot wait to see the ball drop January 1st. Hopefully, 2021 will wash away the stink of 2020.
I have not been back to the states since August of 2019 and I will admit I miss people. I miss family. I miss friends. But the work here is better than ever.
New classes are forming, more people are being reached, and more food is being distributed than at any time in our 5 year history.
We will be working with new people and having a greater scope than we could have ever conceived when my friend Dave and I had our first conversation about Nicaragua back in 2015. In fact our impact could conceivably double or even triple as we look to the first 6 months of 2021.
My health is good. It has been a long time since I have felt this strong. I thank God every day for that strength.
Your support and encouragement have been essential as we got through these past 9 months and we will see the harvest of that labor very soon.
I can’t tell you how much you all mean to me. I can’t begin to express how grateful I am to have your undergirding. Every day someone writes a note, or shares a post, or calls to let me know they care. You don’t know what that means and how that helps.
Thank you for everything. Thank you for working together to share love here in Granada. I don’t think I could do it without you. I am so glad I don’t have to find out.
May you and yours be blessed beyond on all recognition not only in this Holiday Season, but throughout the coming year.