Los Regalos de mis Abuelas

By Rev. Juan del Hierro

The Gifts of My Grandmothers

I remember their deep faith and trust in God. I remember their excitement at having the whole family together to celebrate Christmas. I remember the many calls and video chats we shared when I was not able to celebrate with them in person.

There is so much to remember about the beautiful women who graced my life as grandmothers. This year will be the first without either of them.

Excerpted from the 2021 Advent Booklet

Los Regalos de mis Abuelas, The Gifts of My Grandmothers, Rev. Juan del Hierro, A Christmas to Remember

My Abuelita Maria Elena passed away a few years ago. My Abuelita Haydee did so in 2020. Especially during the holidays, I remember them. And as I honor the grief I feel from no longer being able to call them up to wish them a merry Christmas, I also honor the ways in which they made my holidays so special.

Their Christmas gift to me was far more than just the wallets and belts they gave me in what seemed like every year. Their gift to me was seeing the importance of family and the importance of God in my life. 

My Abuelita Maria Elena would light up when talking about the true significance of Christmas. For her, it wasn’t just about the birth of Jesus. She would always remind us of the wonderful mother that Mary must have been. No Christmas was complete without a novena said to honor Mary.

My Abuelita Haydee was a bit more reserved about her faith, but it also ran deep and was important to her. Her faith in God never faltered and showed up through her generous and loving spirit.

Reminders of Love

One of the things I missed most when I left Ecuador at age 7 were the great posadas our families had. A posada is a gathering of loved ones during the weeks leading up to Christmas, at a minimum on the four Sundays of Advent.

We sing carols, pray together, “eat and be merry.” It usually begins with a song that reenacts Mary and Joseph’s looking for lodging as Mary is about to give birth to Jesus. Once everyone is settled, the family gathers around the Nativity to pray and sing. 

It was on a visit to Ecuador one year that I found and fell in love with a Nativity display. Everything about it honored my Ecuadorian heritage, and everything about it reminded me of my grandmothers’ tender love.

In 2019, I decided I would create the tradition of posadas for my family here in Florida. I brought out my wood-carved Nativity, prepared my Abuelita Maria Elena’s famous chocolate hazelnut mousse, and prayed and sang with glee. I realized then just how many of the traditions that my grandmothers cherished had been passed down to me. 

Unfortunately, 2020 did not allow for a posada with my extended family. But this December will be different. This December, I will bring out my Nativity and decorate the house. Our family will gather. I will make my grandmother’s mousse once more. And I will make sure pictures of both grandmothers are visible as we pray the novena.

We will sing, we will pray, and we will remember. We will remember the wonderful women who supported us and deepened our faith. We will remember them and ensure their legacy lives on in our traditions of our holidays.

Most of all, my grandmothers taught me the importance of loved ones coming together, whether in person or through a simple call on a special day like Christmas. Especially this year, that is one Christmas gift they gave me that I will cherish forever.


Rev. Juan del Hierro is associate minister at Unity on the Bay in Miami, Florida. This article was part of the Unity booklet for Advent 2021, A Christmas to Remember.