“Christmas is love in action. Every time we love, every time we give, it’s Christmas.”
Dale Evans Rogers really got it right when she said that phrase. It’s interesting to me to discover cultural differences concerning worldwide holidays. In Argentina, Santa Claus is called “Papa Noel” and children run to the streets at midnight on Christmas to look for his sleigh only to return to their homes to find all their toys from Papa Noel delivered. As this is occurring, many North American families are headed to midnight Christmas Eve services. No one tradition is more right but it’s true that culture shapes a holiday but doesn’t make a holiday. While all people groups have various traditions, the heart of the day is Christ’s birth and that in and of itself is truly beautiful.
Christmas is an even greater miracle to me every year. With each year I my life have been blessed more because with time I’m able to meet more and more people. I believe that it’s people that make life worth-while, especially during the holidays. Amidst the “rush” of the Christmas season here in the United States, I felt like I was in another world because my mind swayed from here to Argentina constantly. When we had large family gatherings I thought about how my Argentine family gathers every Sunday to spend the entire day together, when we ate turkey I thought about asado, when our clock struck midnight on Christmas Eve I thought about Bauti (my 7 year old host nephew) searching the Buenos Aires skies for Papa Noel, and when I gave Argentine gifts to people my heart was so full because each gift was a reminder to me of one of my Argentine experiences.
Over the past few weeks I’ve been asked several times what my favorite part of Argentina was. That’s an impossible question to answer in a phrase but to keep it quick I usually say the culture in general and the people I met, especially my Argentine family. Really when it comes down to it, people are the core of it all and people are the ones who love and act and give. I believe I’ve had Christmas for the past five months because the Argentines I met demonstrated love in action and they gave to me the most precious gift, the opportunity to live as a porteña and experience their unique yet utterly wonderful country and culture.