Felipe Alou speaks about what Christmas means to him
Giants manager Felipe Alou grew up in poverty at the seaside town of Haina in the Dominican Republic, and Christmas was always a time of celebration, family gatherings, good food and Christian fellowship. As for presents and Santa Claus … the first were minimal, the latter was non-existent.
MLB.com: What does Christmas mean to you?
Alou: I’m Christian. I know the word Christmas comes from Christ. I imagine so and hope so. Even though there have been — I would say controversy — differences in whether Christ was born during that type of year.
Myself, I don’t really care if he was born this time of year — we’re celebrating his birth. We don’t know for sure the time of year, but we do know he was born. We know that for sure.
It is important to us. He’s the savior of the world and we celebrate that. We believe he is the son of God. The importance to me and to my family is we celebrate the birth of the child, Jesus Christ.
The other stuff we enjoy, too. Why not? The shopping and the gifts and the atmosphere of the family gatherings, all of that. But the most important part of it is we remember the birth of the son of the Virgin Mary, and the son of God. I take that seriously.
MLB.com: Is Christmas an important time for you and your family?
Alou: Yes. It’s not something false. We believe. It was instilled in all of my brothers and sisters and all my children, too. It is a serious religious feast of celebration. It has always been part of my life and for my mom. We look foward to that date for what it means to humanity. Even if people don’t believe in the celebration of Christ’s birth, I believe they’re still counting down the time to his birthdate.
MLB.com: Does the commercialism surrounding the holiday overshadow its true meaning?
Alou: Yes, no question. People do like to celebrate, but all that spending throws some cold water on the meaning of the celebration. There’s too much commercialization. We all like to use the opportunity to buy and receive gifts, but the real thing to me is the birth of the savior of the world.
MLB.com: What was Christmas like for you as a child in Haina? Alou: We didn’t believe in Santa Claus. We didn’t know him. He is a personality of people with money. We didn’t have any money. We believed in Jesus and we celebrated the Three Kings. We imagined the three magicians who came from the Orient bringing gifts to the child Christ.
I got five cents one Christmas, and one time a small comb. Some of the most touching letters I wrote as a child were addressed to the Three Kings, but they never wrote back. My parents didn’t have anything, and the biggest disappointment in my life was when I found out the Three Kings didn’t give me the gifts. It was actually my mom and dad.
I wasn’t disappointed because of the small gifts, but I thought the Three Kings were real. We didn’t have anything to give to anybody — there were no gift exchanges.