There’s a lot of beautiful mystery in the story of the magi.
Scrolling through Facebook that day brought a bit of sadness, glimpsing all those photos of a white Christmas in Little Rock, of all places.
I’d prayed for that so many times for my kids. Well, and myself.
Your first year overseas has a way of rearranging your life, your brain, your family, your body. So it makes sense your holidays would follow.
You may be wondering what Christmas looks like away from the lines to meet Santa, the obnoxious Black Friday ads–but also far from the welcoming hugs from mom, the family clustered around the tree or piano belting out carols.
My experience? Like most of overseas life, there were notable griefs and clarifying, memorable triumphs. Here, thoughts from my first Christmas overseas in Africa (edited from the original post on MomLifeToday.com).
Even though it was years ago, I remember it as clearly as if it were today: the year our Christmas was a sickly yellow.
It had taken me a good while to adapt to life in Ghana. After many mornings of tears–morning is when the reality of life there would hit me–I adjusted well. Life was good: The evening Bible school was off to a good start, we were getting to know our neighbors, Gary was mentoring a couple of men and I was helping Nicole, French and married to a Ghanaian, grow in her new faith.
My husband and I, kids in tow, were maneuvering at a snail’s pace through a traffic jam in our trusty high-clearance minivan. Our speakers happily trumpeted the Christmas CD my mom had sent, and we chatted, our energy high for our Christmas shopping in the city and the Christmas party of our non-profit (which, with the barbecue and kids running around in shorts, tends to look a little more like the Fourth of July).
It was sometime after “Let it Snow” that our heads all swiveled to the driver’s side, where a man was banging—hard—on the outside of our van. Never a good sign in Kampala.
The dust, fine and red, coated the plants lining our roads. Sweat beaded on my upper lip. As my children lay awake in bed, I stuck my head in and reminded them to keep guzzling plenty of water, after a friend of theirs landed in the clinic due to dehydration.
Unfortunately it paralleled my parched insides. So many tasks to which I put my hand seemed to droop, languishing and limp. The cost-benefit ratio of my parenting, my ministry there in Uganda, and a handful of relationships seemed tilting precariously in the wrong direction.
I recently spoke with a friend as she prepared for our church’s Fall Festival on October 31. They’re headed to India next year. They sent me the cutest photo of their family dressed up as Batman, Batwoman, and cherubic ittle Bat-kids.
I asked if that night’s festival might be hard. The “lasts”, you see, have begun.
Scrolling through Facebook that day brought a bit of sadness, glimpsing all those photos of a white Christmas in Little Rock, of all places. I’d prayed for that so many times for my kids. Well, and myself.
But a few minutes later, I was playing Christmas music while I spread mayo for sandwiches. Some old lyrics belted out:Haul out the holly/ Put up the tree before my spirit falls again… And I realized, that was why I wanted to be there, enjoying the snow (not to mention the family!). I longed for the emotion of that holiday sparkle; the cozy magic that, with all the right elements, seems to frost everything with light and togetherness and fun, muting the rough edges.