Natal, Noel, Navidad, Christmas. I have celebrated many Christmas eve in my life, sometimes with my family and sometimes with other people’s family. However, I believed that in 2020 I would spend the worst Christmas Eve ever, locked in my room in the university, watching a movie as on an ordinary night. I was entirely wrong.
A few weeks after having accepted this sad destiny, my grandmother comes to my mind. She left us this year, this means that I will never see her again, and I will never spend another Christmas with her, but she taught me one thing that I will keep forever.
My grandmother was a very humble woman; she had 13 children, including twins, that she lost at birth. To honor her beliefs, she offered a big feast to all children in the neighborhood for many years, years after year, regardless of her financial conditions. I grew up watching this and being a part of it.
In my life, I have testified how appreciated my grandmother was. Last year, she was very sick, and I rushed to Brazil in December because I did not know if she would survive. We could not stay 5 minutes in peace without someone arrives at my grandmother’s house searching for news. And for that, we should keep the coffee bottles filled for serving the uninvited guests.
But what this has to do with my Christmas night?
Just everything. I realize how much of my grandmother lives in me. I noticed that it is not with whom we are, but what we do for others. So, instead of crying and complaining about my situation, I decided to prepare a big feast for Christmas and invite whoever wants to participate and help me organize it.
We have been confined in the university, so it was about time to take some advantage of it. As a referent student, I have the role of organizing some activities for those I am responsible for. So, I did. I confess that after receiving only three positive answers at the beginning made me feel stupid. Yes, many questions passed through my mind: Could I be able to organize a party of this magnitude ? Did I have what it takes ? But I was not willing to give up.
In the last week, we had some insured people, and the previous night some more. Last night, I could not believe my eyes as I saw so many students happily enjoying Christmas Eve among strangers as if they had known each other for many years. Some other people would pass by, asked what was going on and few minutes later they were mingled dancing and enjoying themselves.
I know many of you must be judging me wrong because of the Covid-19, but I questioned what is Christmas all about? Is it about going out only to buy gifts and support the economy while leaving some people spending the night alone because they have no family to go to? For me, Christmas is a time of sharing love and gratitude for being alive among those we love, even if we do not know them. It is a time to face our fears and to be generous.
Last night, I had the chance to meet so many students who confined themselves for months that we could never see their faces. I had the opportunity to share a moment with people who celebrated Christmas even if it is not their religion as they needed this moment of sharing. This year was a tough one because we had been prevented from moments of affection. Can we realize how deep this has been affecting our souls ?
To finish our night perfectly, some of us went to assist the mid-night service. Unfortunately, Christmas has been so commercial in the last years that we rarely remember why we celebrate it. It is not for Santa gifts or Christmas trees and lights.
Christmas is not about anything else than the birth of Jesus, a master who taught us to love our neighbors as ourselves, and God above all.
Noel, Natal, and Navitas is indeed a time to shine a light around us, to share what we have without asking for anything back. Nevertheless, I confess that watching many happy people around me was my best gift. (I know that my grandmother would share the same feeling).
The ‘best’ and the ‘worst’ is always our choices. So, I did have by choice the best Christmas night ever and I hope my loved family had it too.
PS: I have spent so many special moment in the CROUS that I start to believe this place is somehow magical.