Today’s Boost is a little ode to the Costa Rican portal. Growing up, we would have a small manger scene, or crèche, on a shelf: a tiny Jesus, kings, sheep, parents. Isn’t it nuts when Mary is standing, by the way, or kneeling ramrod straight? If I just gave birth in a barn after riding on a donkey all day – to a baby who, in a nativity scene, is inevitably the size of a two-year-old – I am LYING on that straw, thank you very much. And probably muttering at the ceiling, because I’d have a few comments for God at that point.
But I digress.
The point is, I’ll never forget the first time I walked into my mother-in-law’s living room in Costa Rica and saw her Christmas portal, or pasito, taking up almost half of the space. Make room in your heart for Jesus? In Costa Rica they see our trite saying and raise us by making room in their houses. Lots of room. Sometimes it’s enough room for an actual woman to have an actual divine baby in there.
The creativity is fun to watch. Markets and stores sell straw and other materials for their construction, along with, of course, the figures, which are supposed to be handed down on the mother’s side. An article in La Nación explained that one reason the portales are usually built on the floor is that traditionally, local fruits and cypress and other natural elements were used. Events that happened during the past year would sometimes be represented. Truly, the sky is the limit.
Here’s hoping that no matter what your religion or end-of-year traditions, this season provides a chance for you to make something – serious or silly, something that will last or something that will be gone tomorrow. Just something to get our creative juices flowing and take our minds off the day-to-day. Something like a portal, that fleeting, yearly chance to build something all your own on the living room floor.
I’m a writer in San José, Costa Rica, on a year-long quest to share daily posts on inspiring people, places and ideas from my adopted home as a kind of tonic during a rough time in the world. Sign up (top right of this page) to receive a little dose of inspiration every weekday in your mailbox; tell a friend; check out past posts; and please connect with me on Instagram or Facebook! You can also find me churning out small, square poems on any topic under the sun (here on the site, on Instagram or Twitter).