Christmas Tamales
December 2006

“Christmas Tamales,” Ensign, Dec. 2006, 63

Christmas Tamales

I had about two months left on my mission in Costa Rica, and I was serving with an American companion, Sister Nguyen. We were excited to be celebrating Christmas and were preparing small bags of sweets and cookies to deliver on Christmas Eve to friends and families in the small city where we lived.

I had spent most of my mission in very poor areas, and I was grateful. The Lord had blessed me by allowing me to teach people in humble homes, to live among them and learn of their kindness, their humility, and their spirit of sacrifice.

The last family we visited to drop off some treats was the Carmona family, a large family that was one of the poorest in the ward. They all—parents, children, in-laws, and grandchildren—lived in a small wooden hut covered with sheet metal, lacking electricity and any other modern comfort. They were preparing traditional tamales that they would eat during the holidays. We made our delivery and returned to our house.

Very early on Christmas morning we heard a knock on the door. To my surprise, I found myself face-to-face with Minor, the 13-year-old son of the Carmona family. He was holding a small package in his hand.

“Sisters,” he said, “Mother sent me to give you these tamales. Have a merry Christmas!”

I was so thankful they had thought of us—we who had not yet received anything from our own families, we who had not been expecting anything. And this family that probably had just enough for themselves offered us a part of their Christmas “feast.”

I showed my companion the package, and I could see tears running down her cheeks. “Sister, what’s wrong?” I asked.

She answered me very simply: “Sister Burcion, it’s Christmas!”

Yes, it was Christmas, and they had shared the little they had with us, the missionaries, as they would have shared with Christ. It was the only gift we received that Christmas day, a gift I will never forget.