A Time for Family
By Liliana Castaneda-Mejia (MDiv ’08)
In my homeland of Peru, Christmas comes with the beginning of summertime. And for me it is a time for family. When I was a child, Christmas always meant a family reunion—getting together to share the love, peace, and hope of Christ. We started our celebrations early, and ended late.
We always began early in the morning on December 24, which was also my father’s birthday! Giving thanks around the table, we would eat our traditional Peruvian breakfast of lomito saltado (meat fried with garlic, onions, and tomato). Then, we would call all the family members who lived far from us, to talk and wish them a Merry Christmas. We would get the house ready by putting out more Christmas decorations at the windows, on the doors, and at the table. And we cooked the dinner we would share with family and friends: turkey, mashed potatoes, apple salsa and, of course, white rice. Dessert would be chapurrado (a traditional sweet fruit dessert) and paneton (sweet bread with dried fruit).
Joined together with family and friends, it was a time to give thanks to our Lord for his blessings—for his love and peace, and keeping us healthy and united. We waited until midnight to eat our dinner together. Afterward, with the beginnings of summer warming up the night, we would go outside to set off fireworks, and greet our neighbors with a hug and wishes for hope and peace.
Rejoice! I find my Christmas hope in knowing that the Lord Jesus our Savior brings us a new beginning and will transform our lives according to his will. I think about Proverbs 3:5-6, which tells us: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding, in every way acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.” Feliz Navidad!