I decorated my Shoebox during the riots, when I couldn't go out and work. The government was giving us national power almost around the clock, perhaps in an effort to keep people at home watching soccer games instead of burning tires, so it was a nice time to have lights up. Of course, after the rioting stopped, a transformer blew in my neighborhood and we were all without electricity for over a week.
Thanks to some generous friends and visitors to Haiti, I was able to put together Christmas gifts. First, bags of rice and beans for needy families that I work with in the ravine and in Delmas 75. Then small gift bags of stickers, matchbox cars, candy, balloons, and glow-in-the-dark bracelets for my neighborhood kids. And finally, gift bags for each of the Angel Missions employees. Edjour, my medical visa guy, walked in one morning, looked under the Christmas tree, and remarked with a straight face, "Oh, I see Santa visited the Shoebox last night."
I invited all the neighborhood kids to my house on the 23rd for our own little Christmas party. We sang and danced to Christmas carols, ate popcorn and cake, made Christmas toasts, and went gaga over gifts. Before the kids left with their gifts, we gathered in front of the tree and I asked them who could tell me why we celebrate Christmas.
"Because we get to eat a lot!" Frantz instantly yelled!
"We celebrate Christmas because we get presents!" another kid offered.
"No, it's because it's the month of December!" whooped one of the girls.
Finally, a soft-spoken newcomer to the crowd, Camille's 8 year old girl cousin, answered, "We celebrate Jesus' birth at Christmas." She helped me tell the whole story, from the angel Gabriel all the way to the three magi. We'll see how much the kids remember next December.