When I first came to Guatemala I was overwhelmed. As I spent more time here, I was able to sort through things. I work with a nonprofit aiming to better the lives of those living in the red zones. That’s a staggering task, but we are targeting the youth and pairing them with mentors to invest in their lives. And, it works. The next generation of youth are less likely to become involved in gangs, fall into abusive cycles and are more poised than their parents to break cycles of their communities.
This year, I marked my first true Guatemalan Christmas. I’ve been in the country leading up to Christmas, but never spent the big day here. There is no Thanksgiving in Guatemala. So, the natural US divide between ‘Christmas time’ and the rest of the year is gone. I’ve always grown up with a more traditional Southern Christmas. Maybe a little black Friday shopping after Thanksgiving. But Christmas doesn’t get into full swing until a week or two before. We would decorate the house and then Christmas Eve and Christmas Day the family would get together for dinner. Sometimes we hit the movie theaters Christmas Day. Not in Guatemala.