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The Story Of Christmas

The Story Of Christmas

“An artist’s eyes never rest,’ and mine have been working overtime in the Jama Ecuador area!  The Cevallos-Sabando family invited me to their Christmas Eve family feast, which is traditionally served around midnight.  Their home and country store, located on the prominent corner on incoming Jama Avenue,  faces the highly-popular park in the center of town.   Throughout the year, friends, neighbors and strangers ebb and flow past the storefront, where an always-changing sidewalk display reflects the current holiday theme.  On Christmas Eve, a cluster of people sat in plastic chairs and stared at the nativity scene while family members visited near the corner door and greeted passersby.

The Sabando/Cevallos Family --- A  Relaxed Greeting Party

The Sabando/Cevallos Family — A Relaxed Greeting Party in Jama Ecuador

I arrived early to help my friends with the preparation of the meal, and was surprised to be immediately seated for an end-of-day meal!   Not too hungry, I served a token amount of beef and rice then washed it down with fresh coconut water. Pulling my paring knife from my purse, I then began prepping vegetables.  (Sometimes we learn to be prepared!)

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When the kitchen duties were finished, I absorbed the buzz of activities in the center of town.  Through foreign eyes I witnessed so much more than the goings on in my friends’ downstairs kitchen!

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People gathered in the park while children were introduced to new toys.

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This little cowboy wasn’t too happy to be thrust upon a wild stallion!

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This young gal appreciated the magic of sparklers!

As the evening progressed, more people gathered near the nativity scene.  Others waited in Central Park for the ten-o’clock mass.

Siblings, Lider and Maruja Sabando, escort their dear Mama across the street.

Siblings, Lider and Maruja Sabando, escort their dear Mama across the street.

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Many people waited in the church, which anchors the corner past my friends’ country store.   Below are three generations of the Sabando family.

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Nieve (left) sits with her mother, daughter-in-law and grandson. How many women could have birthed 13 children and aged as gracefully as dear Mama?

At the appointed hour, people began to fill the church.  I sat with Mama, and Nieve veered along the wall, walked to the front and placed their small Christ Child doll on the alter with others.   At ten thirty, I left Mama and Nieve and eased back to the house to resume kitchen duties.

Siblings Cira and Fernando (Left, Middle) greet their unexpected European friend!

Siblings Cira and Fernando (Left, Middle) greet their unexpected European friend!

The cluster of people on the sidewalk continued their acapella songs, which drifted back to the kitchen and mingled with the aromas of stuffed turkey and simmering vegetables.     Family members brought covered dishes, which joined the growing buffet upstairs; I was getting hungry!

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In the kitchen, Lovely Rosa was also cooking ping-pong sized ‘pan de yucca’ (manioc rolls) and hand-rolled fried cheese sticks.   Taking a break, I sat outside just in time to see the progression flow out of the church! The Christ Child was presented to each person who awaited his birth.   Many kissed Baby Jesus before he was carefully tucked in his manger.  This coincided with the stroke of midnight, and everyone stopped for a customary greeting of one another.  The singing continued through the entire event.

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Last year I attended a Christmas dinner in another town, and at midnight, everyone paused from the meal and greeted one another and raised  their glasses in a toast.

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A New King Is Born!

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With  warm affection, Lider Sabando, greets his mother.

Rosa takes a break from kitchen duties!

Rosa takes a break from kitchen duties!

Yes Virginia, there is a Santa Clausette!

Yes Virginia, there is a Santa Clausette!

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I dashed back to the kitchen to find Rosa placing four cheese sticks and three yucca rolls on small plates.   Each person outside received a plate and a token rum and egg drink called rompopi!    After the outside guests were served, THEN we went upstairs and joined the others!

Your Zeebra friend, the first to leave, went home around two in the morning!

Z

PS, Skywatchers:  There’s a meteor shower in the wee hours tomorrow morning – (late tonight) –  Drink a lot of water, and when you awaken before dawn, go outside and look up!!!!

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