Monday, December 7, 2009

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Do you think Christmas was stuck at the end of December so that we would say things like "It's the most wonderful time of the year!" and convince ourselves of it, even though it's bitterly cold outside and miserable with rain/sleet/snow coming down and slush covering the ground? I just can't help but wonder.

It is Christmas time, and weather aside (woke up to a little bit of snow coming down this morning), it is a fabulous time of the year! The last two years were strange for us, as far as Christmas goes. December is one of the hottest months in Tanzania, certainly no snow or log fires. We did have each other to celebrate with, along with a couple of friends. Even though evergreen trees didn't really grow in Tanzania, the custom had traveled from the West there, and in typical African fashion had been adopted and changed. So on Christmas day across Tanzania, single branches of evergreen trees are the hottest selling item. What do people do with them? Hang them on a wall, over a door, set one on a table, stick one in the grill of your car or on the handlebars of your bicycle. It's Christmas, so that's what you do! A few whole (though scrawny) trees are also available for sale in the streets on Christmas day (but not before). One of my favorite Christmas memories was standing by the market one year on Christmas day and watching a woman covered head to toe in a full black burqa (traditional islamic dress) buy one of the few Christmas trees to take home. A Christmas tree! It made me smile :).

This year is an exciting one for us. It will be our first Christmas home with family in quite a while, but it will also be our first Christmas as a family with our son, Sawyer. That means this year we get to mix and create some of the traditions for Christmas that our kid(s) will grow up knowing and remembering. Any good suggestions? We've already decided one: we want to celebrate through the advent calendar as a family with daily and/or weekly devotions in the month leading up to Christmas. It's fun to make it a whole season and to get to the heart of why the holiday exists. We want to make it a special time for our family, as we will often be in different homes and countries than even the year before, and we will really have to cling to one another as a family. Other than that one, we're open to ideas to make Christmas a special one for our family unit. Some from our childhoods: M's family always started the day with a coffee cake, complete with candles and a "happy birthday" to Jesus song. Then presents, a day of relaxing, and a big ham dinner. JJ's family always celebrated with a huge hot breakfast, complete with country ham, biscuits, and much more. We also both remember hot chocolate as a staple of the day, and an assortment of home-baked cookies. What about you? How do you celebrate the day and the season and what do you love about it?

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