Being here has always been especially hard for me around the holidays. There is just something a little depressing about being halfway around the world from your family and friends on a day when so many are gathered closely with theirs. It’s sad opening up your computer to find the weathermeter on your desktop showing snowflakes in Oklahoma while it’s a balmy 85 degrees or so here. It’s weird that I could have gone the entire day without seeing any indication that it was a special day.
And as much as I hate that I do, I find myself longing for those things that make Christmas Christmas in my mind. I long for snow and crowded malls and Christmas music on every station. I long for a Christmas break and my mom’s Christmas goodies and Russian tea. I long for Christmas lights and wrapping paper and sitting by a fire (that’s inside a house). I long to be with my family opening presents instead of attempting to do it over a very spotty internet connection.
I have a dear friend who sends me an e-mail and prayer every Saturday. She sent me this last week that totally hit me: I pray for your heart during this time of year when you are stripped of the things that give Christmas its sentimentality. I pray that you would focus of the amazingness of a King who would deign to leave His place of reign and willingly take on the form of one of His lowly creatures to dwell among us. This was such a needed reminder for me about where my focus should be.
I’ve always been challenged and intrigued by a line in Psalm 73. I love the whole psalm, but verse 25 reads, “Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you.” Nothing?? Really?? During a time when I find myself desiring a whole lot on this earth, and having to force myself to not feel sorry for myself constantly, I’m struck by the boldness of this declaration. Another translation reads, “You’re all I want in Heaven! You’re all I want on earth!” Oh I wish I could live like that, so single-minded and focused on what truly matters. If I did, it wouldn’t matter where I was for Christmas or who I was or wasn’t with. Instead, I find myself too often desiring the temporal instead of the eternal.
Today, Christmas had a forced simplicity. If it had been possible for it to be any other way, I’m afraid I would not have had it be so simple. But I’m thankful it was. I’m grateful that the materialism was stripped away, and the focus was on a Savior who entered this world in the humblest of ways. I needed the reminder.
We spent the day cooking and preparing a special meal for our aunties and babies. And that was it. When the meal was over, that was that. Life went on as if it were any other day.
In preparation for today’s meal, yesterday I had some of the babies help me make sugar cookies to serve. We had so much fun, and we were able to kill two birds with one stone. Fun for kids/task accomplished for me!
|Charity, Peddy, and Betty help cook|
|Kurt and Maureen|
|The whole gang (even Helen helped!)|
The dinner for the aunties and babies went well. We had rice, chicken, potatoes, soup, and greens. It was delicious, and they loved having a special meal. Kathi did ALL the work while we attempted to help her. But when you've cooked for the masses your entire life, no one gets close to doing things as well as you, so we just let her shine :). She's unbelievably gifted.
|Serving the aunties|
|The first shift eating|
As silly as it seems, I really love having the babies wear holiday clothes on the day they were intended to be worn. It just makes me happy that one day out of the year, those Christmas outfits they are always wearing anyway will actually be relevant. The aunties and I pulled out all the red and green wear, and anything that said Christmas. We had to stretch a bit on a few, but they all at least had a touch of Christmas colors on them. I got a few pictures of a few of them before they bathed, but the rest had already changed!
|Emmanuel and Joy with Auntie Vi|
|Prince and Princess|
So Christmas has come and gone, and now those outfits will go on to be worn the rest of this year on random days of the week. And I'll smile to myself whenever I see them and love the constant reminder that Christmas is about more than the gifts and hype, but totally about the love. THAT we have plenty of around here.
|Christopher's outfit was a bit of a stretch, but he is a rockstar and an all star.|
|Chabonwa, gaining weight by the minute|
|Mercy, unsure of all the red around her|
|Busiku, the happiest reindeer of all|
|Memory and Melody|