TOGETHER, WE CAN
Christmas is a season of peace, joy, and hope for a fresh start and a brighter new year ahead. For my family and I, Christmas is a time for us to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, my favorite tradition. Our family Christmas tradition goes far back as far as the ’80s when my Tudela family would bring Baby Jesus into the homes of our parishioners. I remember starting early at 6am and finishing around sunset. We would visit parishioners in San Vicente, Dandan, Aslito, Kannat Tabla, and As Terlaje.
This tradition, along with seeing the happy faces on my children as they carried the Baby Jesus from door to door, has always been something I look forward to every December. However, like December 2020 and with the recent spike of COVID-19 cases in the Marianas, the holidays will be spent differently. The only thing that we can do now is to figure out how else we can spend Christmas while we follow the 3Ws—washing hands, waiting at a distance, and wearing a mask. This is also a good time to brainstorm new ways to follow old traditions, while looking forward to brighter times ahead.
Speaking of old traditions, growing up I would get excited when I see buildings that were illuminated with Christmas lights. When I had moved abroad for college, I would drive around to see the Christmas displays in my area to uplift my spirit. For the past five years, the annual Christmas Village is a way our family can give our people the chance to be merry and bright, uplift their spirits, find peace and comfort, and put a smile on their faces. It is especially important during this holiday season as we continue to battle the pandemic.
This year, the Governor’s Council of Economic Advisors established the Marianas Village Pride Christmas Decorating Contest to promote beautification in the villages. This is the perfect opportunity for schools, residents, businesses, and village residents to bring the festivities into their villages, homes, and schools while improving our islands. GCEA will be accepting registration through Dec. 15 on its website cnmieconomy.com. The MVP Christmas Decorating Contest will be open from Dec. 18 to Jan. 6 and submissions will be judged by Most Festive School, Home, Business, and Village. I know many of you decorate your homes each year, so I encourage you to participate in this collective program and maybe win a prize.
As we rejoice and celebrate this wonderful Christmas season, let us also not forget how lucky we are to be alive today. Make this Christmas a memorable and safe one and don’t forget to pray. Let’s pause for a moment and thank God Almighty for the blessings bestowed upon every one of us and as we enter the new year. May your hearts be happy and at peace. Have a wonderful time with your loved one, and I wish you all a safe and prosperous New Year!
For more information, visit the GCEA at cnmieconomy.com, on Facebook and Instagram (@cnmigov.economy), or contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Diann Torres is the first lady of the Northern Mariana Islands, where she established the Lady Diann Torres Foundation to better the lives of residents in the islands. The foundation has supported fundraising for cancer research, women’s empowerment conferences, and the cultural history of indigenous populations.