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Chris Linnares, Published December 06 2012

Happy Body/Hot Life: Birthday cake for Jesus just part of Christmas to-do list

Christmas can be a very stressful time, especially if you, like me, are part of the prayer group: “God, please, help me to finish my last minute to-do list and I promise that next year I will be a good girl and start working on my Christmas list in March!”

After these past few days of trying to put decorations up, deciding what to make for Christmas day and what gifts to give to who, I needed to include on my list: to listen patiently to the ideas that my beloved Catholic mom insists on telling me about how my family’s Christmas tradition should be.

“Christiane, are you talking to your daughter about the true meaning of Christmas?” “Did you explain to her that Christmas is a birthday celebration and she is not the birthday girl?” “Make sure you don’t forget to make a birthday cake for Jesus like we do back home in Brazil …”

A few years of therapy later and today I can actually enjoy having my sweet mom – who doesn’t know the definition of the word boundaries – staying at our home for the holiday season. But personally, I don’t know if I am going to include on my list her tradition of making a birthday cake for Jesus.

Being the good Catholic that my mom is, every time she comes to visit us, she always brings a holy statue to help to “bless mi casa.” I have the feeling that in a few years I can open my own Catholic church with all the statues I have around my home.

The last one she gave to us was a 35-inch Jesus statue that my husband committed the blasphemy of asking her if it was for the garden. Luckily, he skipped “Portuguese 101” class and my mom believes that English is the most difficult and strangest language on earth. I was able to commit a little sinful translation and say to her: “He is saying that he loved the giant Jesus you gave to us and he can’t wait to find the perfect place inside our home to put him.”

She likes to tell the story of how God – besides saving starving kids around the world – protected her statue against the horrible turbulence she got on the airplane. With a surprising Catholic guilt she always says things like: “God, please, forgive me if you believe I am making an idol out of this statue, I just want to give to my daughter a little reminder of your presence in the midst of her busy vida louca.”

The best part of having my faithful mom are the stories of miracles that comes behind every Catholic symbol she gives to us – “This is the Sacred Heart of Jesus’ statue that was blessed by Father Carlos, a wonderful priest from the Cathedral of Holy Jesus’ Heart, a powerful church where aunt Maria prayed and received the biggest miracle of her life …”

Brazil is the most Catholic country in the world, made up of about 70 percent Catholics, and my big Brazilian family wasn’t an exception.

Independent of my family’s beliefs and traditions, I’ve always been fascinated by the impact of Jesus Christ in the history of humanity. He never wrote one single line, but his teachings found way to travel from the Dark Ages to Post-Modernity, touching more people’s lives than any bestseller book in the world.

Catholic, Buddhist or Atheist, it doesn’t matter what belief you have, no one can deny that he is one of history’s most familiar figures. As the renowned Yale historian Jeroslav Pelikan wrote: “Regardless of what anyone may personally think or believe about him, Jesus of Nazareth has been the dominant figure in the history of Western Culture for almost 20 centuries.”

In the midst of preparations to celebrate Christmas, in a strangely annoying way, my mom is helping me remember what this season is about and who the honored guest is.

In our world we are able to develop technology that can take us all the way to the moon, but we are still struggling in finding peace inside ourselves. I believe Jesus’ message of love, hope, compassion and forgiveness is more necessary than ever and it will continue to challenge and inspire humanity for generations to come.

In this case, I agree with Albert Einstein when he said that “What humanity owes to personalities like Buddha, Moses and Jesus ranks for me higher than all the achievements of the enquiring and constructive mind.”

So here I am, writing this column at my home office, looking at my beautiful statue of Jesus, trying to connect with the true meaning of this season and making sure that I don’t forget to add on my Christmas to-do list: birthday cake for Jesus!

Chris Linnares is an international author, Brazilian psychotherapist and creator of Diva Dance. She is the founder of Naturally Diva and Diva Connection Foundation for women’s health and empowerment. Contact her at chris@naturallydiva.com.