Tuesday, December 19, 2006

'Tis the season...

I dread this time of year. I used to look forward to Christmas a lot more, it was really different back in the day. A friend of mine was asking me about the thing that was ‘the most’ different about life here and life in Kenya. I said, ‘Christmas is a lot more fun there.’ Maybe that isn’t true for everyone but for me, Christmas was a time of fun and celebration and family. One of my favorite memories from Christmas growing up was putting together Christmas ‘baskets’ with my dad and then delivering them to families we knew. The ‘baskets’ were filled with great stuff like, whole chickens, bags of flour, bags of maize, and little toys for the kids. I remember delivering the ‘baskets’ and the families would be so excited and so grateful, the kids would be thrilled because of the little matchbox cars, dolls and candy. It was really a treat for them and they were always full of gratitude, and we always left them all grinning and waving at their doorsteps.
Christmas to America is about stuff and shopping and spending too much money. At least that’s the way it seems. I don’t like it here. I hate going to get groceries this time of year, people are walking through the isles with frowns and in such a rush you would think a natural disaster were about to take place…but nothing is coming, except for Christmas. I don’t really enjoy going to work either, so many people have come in these last few days in such bad moods, I am serving adults but I feel like I am serving children! They are super impatient and throw temper tantrums if everything doesn’t go their way. (Side note: Next time you are in a restaurant and they are out of what you want, keep in mind that your server is doing his or her job…it’s the kitchen’s job to keep the food stocked…so don’t yell at the server, it’s not their fault.)
Anyhow, with all of the negativity around me it has been hard to get into the ‘Christmas spirit’. A few weeks ago, my roommates made me participate in putting the tree up…I still don’t see the point. Just last week, I rode around in the car with some other friends and we looked at Christmas lights…again…the point? I guess the point of Christmas for many people isn’t to focus on celebrating the greatest gift ever given to man. Maybe it is to spend lots of money on everyone you know, to rush through the month of December and hopefully remember at the end of it all how to use the muscles in their face that make them smile. I hope I never become that kind of an American. I pray that my focus will stay on Christ…not only but especially at Christmas time. I hope that when I have a family of my own, I will portray to them the importance of loving those around me and remember the true reason we celebrate at Christmas.


  1. Focusing on Christ during Christmas CAN be done in America. Our advent services every Sunday night during December have absolutely changed my focus of Christmas. If you hate putting up a tree, then put up a Jesse tree, which is basically an empty tree and you make ornaments for each theme that you focus on during Advent. We encourage our families to do this at home and we do one at church. This year, it was about Jesus being our Prophet, Priest, and King. So, our church Jesse tree (out of the stump of Jesse will come a shoot...) is full of little sandals, ark of the covenants, crosses, crowns and crowns of thorns, lambs, etc. We celebrated Advent all month last year and it has really helped the families of our church (and us!) to focus on Christ. William and I don't exchange gifts, but are doing something like you did in Kenya. It takes being intentional in America--it's probably not going to "just happen", but you can change your focus.
    For me, it sometimes means just spending a little time meditating on the Incarnation of Christ--which has totally blown me away recently more than it has in many years.
    I hate the commercialization of things, too, but you learn to ignore it and you learn to be jealous for th glory to go to Christ at Christmas, so you become intentional about how you celebrate Christmas. I hate Santa and all that junk that goes with it (lying to your kids, etc.), so William and I choose to celebrate Christmas noticably differently from other people. You can do this too--it's a great opportunity to share with other people what you believe about Christ and Christmas.
    I know you must miss being home in Kenya--I'm not trying to make light of that. I just hate to see you hate the holidays when they can be full of beauty and wonder about the first Advent of Christ, and looking forward to His second Advent.
    Much Love, sister.

  2. I guess I just have to say JESUS is the Reason for the Season. AND HE is our JOY!! What other people do this season doesn't change it for us. I think HE delights in our JOY over gifts to and from loved ones, excited little kids full of joy....the decorations. Wesley is very excited about anything and everything we do to celebrate Jesus' "birthday" this year, my hope for you is that you would have some of that childlike joy also. Back to the last post where I talked a bit about the Holy Spirit...fruit of the Spirit. Love, JOY,.... It is there for you, but there are many things that would love to take that away.

    Another side-note is from my point of view, living where very few people celebrate or acknowledge Christmas. (It takes knowing about Him to have Christmas). Although obviously in the states this holiday season is not about Christ for many...there is a seed there, they KNOW at least that He is the REASON. I think it is an open door for the many believers in America to show their joy during this time and their reason for it. Part of the reason Christmas is overinduldged is that search for joy, fulfillment,...that of course won't be found in just celebrating "big".

    Yet again, sorry for the rambling. :) Love you, Kara

  3. Hey - I don't have any great words of wisdom for you but wanted to agree with what glenna and kara have written. I LOVE the holidays and the opportunities it gives for us the share the hope that we have. I am so missing all of the festivities and wish you could enjoy them for me. Don't let others take away your joy. Love the idea of spending more time on the advent - remember that great advent Aunt Linda has for the girls. Maybe we should write her and get all the scrip, readings and items and make one for next year.
    Can't wait to see you

  4. I think that kids "get Christmas" so much more than we do as adults. The girls just had a conversation at dinner about how exciting it is to celebrate Jesus birthday! Christmas in it simplest form is teaching my girls about God's greatest gift, Jesus- and they are amazed. I love our family tree because it is full of memories, every ornament means something special from all our different Christmas celebrations.
    In America it can be hard to keep the focus on Christ, you do have to be intentional. Speaking of which the girls want to make a Happy Birthday Jesus cake, wanna join up?

  5. I stole this from patrick's blog, but wanted to encourage you as everyone else has, to be different from the world. we are called to live above reproach and to be set apart. let the people at work and other friends to see that you are joyful and that you love Christ...besides that's why we're here. to show other's Christ and to give Him glory.

    "In the feast of Christmas we are directed in a new way to the very thing that stands in the center of the Bible, to the simple reality of the gacious and merciful action which comes from God into this lost world. We are no longer concerned with elegant and gay pictures and fancies; from the reality which is so plain and from our distress, we thirst for the reality of the great divine help. Our question is whether God really has sent the One who has the right and authority for complete, all-embracing, final redemption. And the Christmas message is the complete, glorious "Yes" of the answer to this question."

    -- Dietrich Bonhoeffer

  6. one more thing. patirck beard preached on sunday at church. we celebrate the 12 days of Christmas (called Christmastide) and he talked about symbolism that he came up with for his oldest daughter about the Christmas tree. ask me about it later...too much to type. it's amazing what some people can come up with on the spur of the moment...amazing!