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Q&A: Señor Silvestre

[My family] celebrates Christmas; my celebrations are based on my personal Christian beliefs and my cultural beliefs, so it’s a combination of the two. Where I come from, Christmas is not so much a commercial thing, but more [about] coming together as a family and celebrating the fact that Christ came as a child to show us how to live—that’s culturally-wise. Now, based on my personal Christian belief—and knowing that the reason for the season is not the weekly check [but] is Christ—we celebrate the birth of Jesus, and we don’t focus [as] much on the ‘what am I going to get?’ 

In my family, because we have children at home, we think about the reason why we are celebrating Christmas. My wife normally bakes a small cake that says ‘Feliz Cumpleaños Jesús,’ and during the year, we focus on saving some money, and we buy [gifts for] people who actually need stuff. We go and spend time with people and give them things that they need because we, as a family, don’t need anything. Many times Christmas is focused more on ‘what am I going to get?’ [Even though] most of us are so awesomely blessed, we are still thinking about how much more [we] can have. 

My kids are aware of the way people celebrate Christmas [commercially], and they are still not interested in [the presents] they’re going to get. My kids are not talking about what they are going to get but more what they’re going to give, and that was my wife and I’s intention when raising them.

One year, we bought toys for kids in the shelters here in Grand Rapids, and my kids enjoyed that. For me, to see them enjoy that would be probably the equivalent of some parents seeing their kids celebrate a new Xbox or something like that. For me, that’s what I want to see.

In the Hispanic culture, we have Three Kings day, which is January 6th, and that’s when kids receive gifts. It’s assumed that [on] January sixth, after their long journey, the Three Kings arrive to Jesus, the little child, with gifts. That’s the connection kids have with Jesus, but that’s after Christmas, so it’s kind of like a celebration for the children. In my culture, kids get gifts that day, but it’s past Christmas. The focus on the actual Christmas day and Christmas Eve is who came and what brings us together as families and friends.

You know, people enjoy their [way of celebrating], and I don’t criticize people for doing it, but I just don’t do it that way.

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