Is it Christmas???
It’s the afternoon of December 20th. Christmas is 5 days away…. so technically 4 more days until Christmas. Have I done any shopping? No. Have I sung any familiar Christmas hymns in church? No. Have I done any holiday baking? No. Have I seen any Christmas lights glittering the neighborhoods and lighted trees, dotting the streets? Sadly, no. The truth is, it’s haarrrrrddddddd to get into the Christmas spirit here. We’re sweating out the hot days here with just a few reminders that Christmas is upon us. I must admit, as the days pass, there’s more and more Christmas decorations lining the streets. Cheeseball garlands and fake Christmas trees lining the streets… some bright pink tress, some gold, some green with florescent pink highlights. So maybe these are helping me get in the Christmas mood just a tiny bit. Oh, but I do miss Christmas in America!!! I miss the buzz, even if it’s surrounding commercialism, I miss taking an extra long drive home just so we can see more Christmas lights around town, I miss the looks of awe and wonder that light up our children’s faces. I miss the annual white elephant/ugly christmas sweater party and other festive events. I miss the sweet hymns of our Savior’s birth. Next week I know that I’ll miss the 11pm Christmas Eve service at our church in SB. Undoubtedly, I miss sharing this holiday with our family.
However, we’re finding new rhythms for Christmas here and starting a few traditions of our own. A few weeks back we unboxed the Christmas tree that Jamie’s sister, Shelly, left for us. We’re thankful for a plain green tree, without the florescent pink highlights! To be honest, I’m still getting used to the idea of a fake tree… oh, how I long for the smell of a fresh-cut pine! That same afternoon, we turned on some Christmas music and decorated the tree together. Rather than sipping hot chocolate with a fire crackling in the background, I was sipping iced coffee and wearing board shorts.
We hung the fabulous stockings and awesome advent calendar that for over a year, my mom poured her heart into (and probably shed a few tears over). Each night we’ve been taking turns reaching in and pulling out a bit more of the narrative of Jesus’ birth… and chocolate or candy. Gavin has developed quite the signature “candy dance”.
Last weekend we went to a Posada that our teammate hosted. 5 nationalities were represented and 3 languages were spoken. The kids were eager to dress up as Mary, an angel and a shepherd… this mama wasn’t quite so eager to come up with the costumes but managed to do so. Low and behold, the dress of the angel!! (Eliana was pumped when she saw what we brought home from the market!) We added wings and voila, a beautiful angel!
For Mary and the shepherd I was forced to get a little more creative…. leftover fabric came in handy to transform the two. Glad to see the three playing their roles well….the angel exalting the Lord, Mary caring for baby Jesus, and surely the shepherd must’ve picked his nose back then… what with all the dirt and dust in Bethlehem.
And at the Posada and reenactment of Christ’s birth….
Today, I picked up 13 glass plates from the market. I’m about to go into the kitchen to test out a fudge recipe. On Sunday and Monday, once a whole assortment of goodies are made, we’ll pile these treats on the glass plates and visit our Malagasy friends and co-workers in their homes. This was a tradition we started last year… not sure what our friends were more excited about, the delectable sweets that had never been tasted before or the glass plates!
And so, we’re slowly getting into the spirit of Christmas… I still don’t foresee any shopping in the days ahead. With that said, we’re still not without a few presents! Jamie and I managed to do a little Christmas shopping for the kiddos while in Santa Barbara over the summer and toted these items around the world. There’s still wrapping to do and some more songs to sing and dance to with our kids.
Best of all, there’s the birth of Christ to celebrate. On Christmas Day, after baking a chocolate cake, we’ll sing “Happy Birthday” to Jesus… this has become my favorite tradition of all… celebrating the glory of the Lord who came to earth as a babe to become the Savior of the world. This. is. Christmas.