In many Latino countries, Christmas is a huge family event with people gathering for special meals and conversation and fun. Since family members generally live close together it is easy to gather and remember past Christmases. Last week in Santiago in the Dominican Republic, pastors and families from more than sixty church and church plants came together for a meal. There would be well over a hundred present. Fellowship was great and food special. One of the specials in the Dominican is a roast pig. The usual rice and beans and salad accompany the pork. After all, the Dominican expression is they haven’t eaten rice in a day they haven’t eaten. No turkey or mashed potatoes, stuffing or gravy. And also the setting was unlike here: the meal was set up outside and eaten like a huge picnic.
When I was a child the special fruit at Christmas was most often a clementine or mandarin orange. In the Dominican, in December, apples and grapes are sold at road side stands and in stores as the special treat. Apples and grapes do not grow in the Dominican because the weather is not cold enough.
Whether you get oranges in your stocking or enjoy turkey or roast pork this Christmas, whether you wait by a warm fire or sit out in the sun, remember some people will not be part of a fun communal activity and some will not have special food and share. Remember too that the family gathering is fun, the food great but the reason we celebrate is the birth of our Saviour and Lord