Christmas in Haiti

Originally posted on Rollings in Haiti.

Last year was a bit of a blur for us around Christmas Eve and Christmas day because of the travel woes my family had coming in. We spent Christmas day in Port waiting several hours to get them from the airport only to find out that their luggage didn’t arrive and we’d have to come back a few hours later. Christmas took a few days for us. This year was much different and really, really nice. But I’ll get to that in a minute.

People frequently ask us how Haitians celebrate different holidays etc. I think that we had just sort of assumed that while Christmas wouldn’t be the big blow out celebration that it is in North America, that there were other things going on here. Last year we just weren’t paying attention. This year we sort of were and it’s interesting.

Last week Chris asked Yonese if her church was doing a Christmas Eve service of any kind. No. Another missionary friend of ours spent Christmas Eve day trying to find a church in his community that was doing something. He found a couple that were doing talent show type things with joke telling, but no service to celebrate the birth of Christ.

On Christmas Eve day Chris was walking through the yard and talking to our day guard. The guard commented on the fact that Haitians celebrate on Christmas Eve and Chris told him that Canadians and Americans celebrate on Christmas Day. The guard said, “Is it true that foreigners celebrate because that was the day they were hungry and they prayed to God an turkeys came from the sky?” Chris realized he was thinking of some version of Thanksgiving and just said, “No, it’s the day we celebrate the birth of Jesus,” and that triggered some sort of memory for our guard. It’s a French tradition to celebrate Christmas on Christmas Eve.

What we did hear going on is what we are now calling “the Christmas Disco” which started at about 9 pm and went until sun up. Think loud music, coming from about 4 different directions, all being different types, none of which could remotely be associated with Christmas in a traditional sense.

I was having a hard time with thinking about celebrating what is a traditional way to celebrate, while no one else around us was. Over the last two days I’ve realized that Haiti just doesn’t celebrate in the same way we do, partly because they don’t want to. Those traditions aren’t a part of culture here. If they aren’t a part of culture here, but they are a part of my faith and culture back home then I shouldn’t feel bad about practicing them, especially since they represent a celebration of one of the most important days in our faith calendar, and they don’t negatively affect anyone here.

We had a nice Christmas Eve and Christmas day. Both days were relaxing. In my family it’s a tradition for my mom to make a nice dinner for just our immediate family which we enjoy by candlelight after going to the late afternoon service at church. We did the same thing here, minus going to church because of the above. Olivia got her new Christmas pajamas, also a tradition in my family. She LOVES pajamas, so she LOVED that. We all hunkered down and watched a Veggie Tales Christmas movie which was fun. It’s the first kid DVD that Olivia has ever watched so she was totally into it. It was really fun.

Christmas morning I was the first one awake, as always, and whipped up an egg bake for breakfast and made some coffee. Chris and Olivia were up next and then Auntie Abby. We decided to watch the end of the second Veggie Tales that we had started with Olivia the week before but not finished while we waited for the grandparents. After we finished it we started it again because Chris hadn’t seen it. The grandparent arrived and we all just finished watching the show because it was lazy and nice to be all hanging out. Breakfast was consumed. Stockings were opened and then the gifts. Olivia has a whole new library of books, some new clothes and a couple non-battery operated toys thanks to family that totally respect our wishes as parents to surround our kid with stuff that will grow her brains and not annoy us :)

Chris had fun playing his guitar several times, which made me SO very happy. That was a fun secret that I sat on for 5 months. When I decided that I wanted to try and get a guitar and case for him for Christmas I spent a lot of time looking on Ebay. I knew what I wanted to get him (a Seagull by Godin) because many of my friends, and even my brother owned one and I knew what they were like. It was just a case of finding one for a good price. When I did it almost felt like stealing. I love Ebay. Carmen brought it in for me in October and it sat under Olivia’s bed since then, right under Chris’ nose :) My hope was that having a better guitar would make Chris want to play more, especially for Olivia, and that he would teach her when she gets old enough to learn. Last night after a yummy turkey dinner we sat around singing Christmas carols and kid songs and it was so fun!

I think this year might have been one of my favorite Christmases since we got married. It was the combo of having family here, being in our own home, being able to move towards the season and enjoying every moment, doing things that were important to us, and just relaxing. It was fun, it was peaceful, it was nice. And now I’m taking today off to be lazy. Everyone is eating cereal and/or toast that they make themselves. Lunch is sandwiches and dinner is left overs. I’m going to wear my pj’s for most of the day, maybe take a nap, read and maybe play games.

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