Weird is the best way to describe Christmas here. This is our 4th Christmas away from our families and traditions and each year seems stranger than the previous year! How Christmas is weird? Let me count the ways!
- “The weather outside is…..” No, not frightful. We just entered our Hot Season. We have 2 of those and this one is the hottest and dustiest. No chestnuts roasting on an open fire since we are trying to cool off. We came from a place where for the most part we had snow. It is very strange when we listen to Christmas music when we have fans running!
- No Christmas Sales. Instead of all the stores trying to get customers in for their “Door Buster” sales, embezzlement is the name of the game! Since people are by and large poor and desperate, many of the merchants up their prices by in some cases double! Buying vegetables, fruit and meat from outdoor markets is normally much cheaper than stores but not during the Christmas season. Also people here use busses a great deal since cars are too expensive. The bus companies with triple and quadruple the prices. It is sad.
- I steal from you to give Tt Mmy wife. Theft is high here as it is but this time of year it goes way up. George tells me stories of how men will steal things and give them to their wives at Christmas! “Here Honey, I stole this from the lady down the street. I hope you like it.” The US Embassy warns us every year to be extra diligent about our surroundings. We have had a couple of scary moments with people bumping into our truck deliberately and then demanding money or as in toady, I got out of the truck and was approached by 4 men who were working asking me for a Christmas present! Debra and I don’t buy gifts for each other. For one it is an expense we don’t need and we have learned that Jesus gives us what we need; especially His gift of Salvation. We don’t need anything else.
- “Let’s Go Bankrupt!” Sadly, there is a very high expectation that people must give nice gifts to loved ones; especially the husband to the wife. If that doesn’t happen, then it is looked down on severely. My message on Sunday spoke of what happens here every year. People scrape every schilling they can find and without thinking about January, they blow everything and then they panic because school fees are due at the first of the year. It is a big problem here especially since sending your kids to school costs a fortune since the government doesn’t help.
- Christmas Eve Is Party Time! People buy liquor and the parties start before dark. Sitting in our house we can hear “BOOM, BOOM, BOOM!” from every direction and it isn’t Christmas music. It is very loud well past midnight. They don’t normally have Christmas Eve services; they have service on Christmas Day. We opt out from those. Our old lives consisted of the service and maybe seeing family but usually being home having a quiet evening watching an old Christmas movie on the big TV .
So what is not weird about Christmas here? We do have a few decorations so we dress up the inside some. Our tree is no longer the 9′ one we had but a little tabletop one that works nicely. We have an “African Manger Scene” that was hand made by someone. Since we have no family here we do invite others over for Christmas dinner every year.
As I posted recently, Debra does bake and give lots of sweet things away to those who have graciously helped us during the year plus a few others that the Lord places on our hearts.
We deeply miss Christmas with our families in America and all the traditions we had. But we wouldn’t want to try and travel back for Christmas. It is way too expensive just to come back outside of the Christmas season and holiday travel is always the worst. There are advantages in being here. Our rat race is not as crazy here as in America leading up to the Day. It is way cheaper!!!!! One of the biggest advantage is that we truly grasp the reason for Christmas. It’s not at all about us, the gifts, our comfort and happiness. It is about Christ and we have come to appreciate that more over here since life is much simpler in many ways.
When we wake up tomorrow morning, we will have a quiet day having a few people over to eat and then at the end of it, we will watch a Christmas movie on my laptop! Life is good! We wish all of you a Christmas that worships the One true God!