How a youth in the NPH OneFamily program is about to spend her first Christmas back with her biological family. November 13, 2017 - Honduras
Christelle,* now living with her older sister outside of NPH Honduras' walls, is excited for her first Christmas back with her biological family.
Adapting to a new environment, a new school, a new family – all major changes that bring their own challenges, opportunities for growth, burdens, and blessings. For Christelle,* a 21-year-old in the NPH OneFamily Program, moving back in with her biological family has been what everyone considers a “slow yet steady” process. But now, more than half a year into her new life with her family, Christmas is coming: the perfect family holiday to bring everyone together.
In 2006, at the age of 10, Christelle joined the NPH Honduras family with three of her siblings after her grandmother requested NPH’s help upon realizing she was simply not able to fully support them. Now, 11 years later, Christelle has spent over a decade growing up, learning, and celebrating holidays with her NPH family, but is looking forward to the opportunity to grow closer to her biological one this Christmas.
The first half year spent off the Ranch passed quickly with her older sister and her two nephews, three and four years old. “It’s going well, I guess. I’m in my third cycle of ‘el colegio’ (almost in her final year of high school) and am learning a lot from a beauty school here in town too.”
The NPH OneFamily team – a cohort of social workers, psychologists, and directors that make monthly visits to check on Christelle’s progress – are proud of how well she’s adjusted to such a big change. School is going well and she is slowly and surely opening up more and more around new friends and family. So Christmas, then, looks to be a great time for bringing the family together.
“It won’t be my first holiday back with my family,” Christelle explains, “I was able to visit for New Years the past few years, but it will be my first Christmas!” And her older sister explains that they have all of the Honduran stops pulled out for the occasion.
“In the past, we would always go early to church together as a family, and then simply share a nice day together in the house. We’ll have a big dinner too. Chicken, beef, whatever is best available to us at the time. Tajadas (fried plantain chips with a sweet crunch) a cake, sweets. And, of course, Nacatamales! Lots of different things.”
It does not sound too far off from Christmas at NPH, where Christelle had a very traditional Honduran Christmas for the past decade. Everyone attends Christmas Eve “Family Mass” together the night before, and family dinner is served outside as a large group. The main dish? Like in Christelle’s family, Nacatamales: A traditional Christmas meal of cornmeal dough stuffed usually with rice, a piece of meat, and potato. The parcel is then wrapped in plantain leaves and boiled or steam-cooked.
For Christelle and her family though, the most important part will be the new member celebrating with them. “This will be my first Christmas in a long time off the Ranch. I was on the Ranch for 13 years, so this will be something different!”
While she and her sister are looking forward to the new addition at the Christmas table, the young nephews seem to be split. “How do you like having your aunt around?” -- “I don’t like it,” the three year old pouts out to get a laugh from everyone present. “Well, why not?” -- “I …. I don’t remember!?”
As it turns out, Christelle had simply scolded him for yelling out during mass that weekend, and like all three year olds, deep scars were taking time to heal over. However, the holidays were still months away, so by then, everyone will surely be happy to have Christelle present.
*Name changed to protect privacy
Alex Hanel Communication Specialist
You may be only one person in the world, but you may be all the world to one child.
—Fr. William Wasson