Christmas in Madagascar is… well, I’ll just say a little different than in the States. It’s hot, it’s humid, there isn’t the Christmas music playing in the stores since before Thanksgiving. There isn’t the buzz to go shopping and spend loads of money on Christmas presents. There isn’t Christmas lights on the houses and beautifully lit and decorated Christmas trees in the windows. There isn’t a bunch of holiday shindigs, ugly Christmas sweater contests and white elephant parties… though I have seen amazing white elephant presents here that would surely be the hit of any party! I have to be honest, I miss all of these things! Christmas just doesn’t seem like Christmas without them. This year, more than any other year, we’ve had to be really intentional to prepare for Christmas. Yet in doing so, we’ve experienced the amazing blessing of preparing ourselves and our kids to celebrate the birth of Christ.
Not all things are totally absent here in Madagascar. Take for instance, one can purchase any of these beautiful fake trees walking around town… you can even get a “flocked” style tree with green tips!
We decided to forego one of these beauties as my sister-in-law and brother-in-law left us their fake Christmas tree that looks a bit more like the real thing. Thanks Shelly and Hennie! We did decorate this tree and the decorations really represent the blending of our two worlds… brightly colorful and shiny ornaments from the States and ornaments that I made out of natural raffia, seeds, bark, gourds and starfish found here in Madagascar.
One of our preparations was to make an advent wreath. I had to get creative of course… scoured for candle holders in the market, butchered a fake Christmas tree for the greenery, and found just enough candles at the store but in the end, it was a total success.
Each night we light the advent candles, read from a book and engage in conversations with our kids about Mary, Joseph, Jesus, the angel and the shepherds. We speak of God’s love for us and the ultimate gift of His son. We sing Christmas carols as a family and sound pretty lousy doing so but the moments have been sweet.
Indeed, some new traditions have been started this year and we’ll add them to some of our old favorites…. especially when they include outrageous white elephant gifts! Merry Christmas!