The JoJo Experience: Christmas with the Godnicks

Monica Godnick, Editor-In-Chief

Many of you are probably thinking, “I cannot wait one more second until winter break.”

This two week period of grace not only helps everyone take another breather from the increasing intensity of the school year after Thanksgiving; but it also encompasses winter holidays and promises a fresh start when we come back in the new year. This week, I am going to give the basic rundown of how the Godnicks usually take on Christmas. My father is American and my mother is Bolivian, but we have approached this holiday the American way some years, the Bolivian way other years and sometimes we end up mixing both.

When we visit Bolivia for the holidays, my extended family usually has a huge get-together on Christmas Eve at my grandparents’ house. We get to meet up with all our cousins. My special needs sister Joanne (JoJo), loves our cousins. They are mostly little boys or tween boys with an enormous amount of energy. They run around and play rough with each other and JoJo has always found that entertaining.

JoJo’s strongest sense is her sight, so she always wants to see people moving around. Her keen eye sight also makes her love bold colors. She loves sporty clothes and that’s what my little cousins like to wear. On the other hand, I have always been a “girly girl” growing up, so I was never interested in playing their games and when I tried, I would bail out on the game midway. Probably because I was losing. Then, I’d go along to play with my dolls or dance with my aunts.

There is a huge turkey dinner that goes past midnight. Someone says a toast and we all say Merry Christmas to each other and then we hear fireworks going off in the neighborhood. JoJo has a set routine that she never fails to follow, not even on Christmas, and part of it is sleeping early, around 9 p.m.. Therefore, whenever this event happened, she would sleep through the midnight toast up in one of the rooms of my grandparent’s house. Last time we had that moment was probably four years ago.

Last year, in Maryland, we had ham on Christmas Eve in our new pajamas. The next day in the morning after opening our presents, we all get all dressed up for Mass. Our family has a lot of faith and I find Mass a place where I can find my own peace. Out of all the churches I have been to my whole life, the one I go to now (St. Raphael’s) has been the most welcoming to JoJo. Instead of staring at her, everyone usually gives her a smile and says hi. People who we do not even know have come up to us to learn about JoJo and talk to her.

We usually grab a spacious spot for my sister in the back; she is deaf/mute but she makes noises like a baby would, so we usually go in the back with other families who have little children so we do not disturb the service. JoJo loves the colors and styles of everyone dressed up for Christmas Mass. However, when everyone is still and seated she can sometimes sneakily pull my long curly hair because she wants me to walk around and model for her in my Christmas outfit. We often call her the ‘Fashion Police.’

At home, my brother and I switch between helping make dinner and playing with JoJo with my dad. Finally, we put our pajamas back on and had a nice dinner listening to Christmas songs sung by Frank Sinatra and Nat King Cole.

I love a good present as much as the next person but the way the holidays can unite people and bring out joy, kindness, good vibes and nostalgia all at once, is the best part.