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A Bear’s First Christmas

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BearDuring last year’s Holiday Tour of Homes, new owners Acacia and Dylan Semler proudly showed off their four-story home on South Fitzhugh Street. When Acacia heard that this year’s tour was canceled, she was ready to volunteer their house again if that would help. “We’ve finished the second floor—that would be new.” If you went on last year’s tour, you’re sure to remember this couple. They were not only in the midst of renovations to their newly acquired house, they were also expecting their first child.

Bear Moran Semler arrived on January 26, and this enthusiastically happy boy with a smile that never quits is approaching his first Christmases. Yes, Christmases. Plural. He has been born into two cultures, and his parents are trying to figure out how to celebrate with him. His father Dylan is from Buffalo and grew up with the Christmas that our nation observes, while mother Acacia grew up in Mexico City, where the celebration is very different.

From December 16 until Christmas Eve, there are nine Posadas (the Spanish word for lodging or an inn), a novena representing Mary’s nine-month pregnancy leading up to the birth of Jesus. Each night there is a procession of people through the streets of a neighborhood in search of an inn where Mary and Joseph can stay. Each night they stop at a different house where they sing a song, and for eight of those nights they are turned away because there is no room for them. On the ninth evening, Christmas Eve (known as Noche Buena), they are finally welcomed into a “home,” most likely a church, where the approaching birth of the Christ Child is anticipated with a joyous party of food, games (including piñatas), and sometimes fireworks. But Santa does not bring gifts that night. Instead, gifts for children arrive on the Feast of the Epiphany (el Día de los Reyes), January 6, delivered not by Santa but by the Three Kings, or Magi.

Bear familyDylan knows it would be difficult to arrange such a celebration in Rochester “if you only have three of us doing it.” The couple is trying to resolve what Christmas will be like for Bear. This year, at eleven months old, he may be too young to grasp the meaning of any observance, but Acacia is looking ahead. “I would like him to see a little bit of both [cultures]. I would definitely like him to experience Christmas at least once every other year with my family in Mexico City.”

Bear is already an international traveler, having visited Mexico City to meet his family south of the border. That seems appropriate for a young man who will grow up with the love of two cultures.

All this talk of the holiday season is a reminder that the Gazette should wish all of its readers a Happy Hanukkah, Happy Kwanzaa, Merry Christmas, and, of course, to Bear Moran Semler and his mother Acacia, may we add Feliz Navidad!