Pros and Cons of a Tropical Christmas
No over-marketing leading to greed and disappointment
No fussing with mittens, gloves, socks, hats when we go outside
No crusty brown yard, but beautiful green garden full of flowers and birds instead
No pressure to decorate perfectly
We get to enjoy our poinsettias as bushes in the ground instead of potted plants that die
No traffic at the mall; no mall!
Experiencing Christmas in a culture that's more similar to Biblical times than modern times
No crisp weather
No hot chocolate in front of a toasty fire
No Christmas parties on the calendar
No holiday music in every store
No chimney for Santa; we'll (supposedly) leave a key for him on our porch.
No carolers at the door or Christmas hymns in church
No drives through the neighborhood enjoying the lights on the houses
No big extended family surrounding us through the holidays
As I contemplate this coming Christmas, I find myself experiencing both anticipation and regret. I'm regretful that I'm not with our large family in the States, but I enjoy the quieter Christmas that we have here in Uganda.
Last year we were on furlough and in the middle of a move, so we did not decorate our small apartment at all, other than taping a few of the kids' school projects to the wall. All of our own decorations were in Africa anyway. It was a bit dismal, but the joy of being near our extended families more than made up for the Spartan decor.
This year will be our first Christmas in a new home and a new country. We will need to figure out where to put our small fake tree, where to hang the stockings with no fireplace, how to bring Santa in with no chimney, and how to spend our time while our office is closed. Will we travel or just have a warm weather hibernation?
Regardless of where we are, with whom we celebrate, and how the weather feels, we are more easily reminded of the meaning of Christmas when the broo-ha-ha of American holiday marketing is stripped away. It's easier to focus on the birth of our Lord when we are surrounded by farmers, warmth, animals being herded, bright stars at night, and thatched huts which are surely similar to the surroundings Mary and Joseph experienced in their lifetime. When we see the poverty nearby, we are so grateful for and humbled by our comfortable home, our plates full of food, the electricity and running water we enjoy, and most especially the Gift that was so graciously given to all of us regardless of our nationality or wealth.