What do you do to get into the "Christmas Spirit"?
Last year while I was in Costa Rica, I admit I didn't really do too much to get into the holiday mood. We had loads of Christmas decorations up in my host family's house, and I even put a couple up in my room. We drove around and looked at the Christmas lights downtown. But I never once broke out any of my Christmas albums. I did not drink an eggnog latte. I couldn't go for a walk in the crunchy snow. The sights, sounds, and smells of Christmas can be found in Latin America...but sometimes they look a little different than what I'm used to. Christmas lights are strung up around palm trees. Inflatable lawn decorations are sold on the hot concrete (my favourite is the inflatable snowglobe with fake "snow" blowing around on the inside). Beautiful Spanish and English Christmas carols play in the malls (yesterday at a mall we saw a giant Christmas tree, strung with lights that flashed in time to Trans-Siberian Orchestra). Christmas "shops" are set up under a tarp on just about every intersection, many selling "Canadian Pine Trees" (the scent is intoxicating). But something just seems "off". And I realized today that it's ME who's a little "off". It's like that feeling when you confidently hop up the stairs but your toe catches and you trip. Or you turn a corner in your house that you know like the back of your hand, and suddenly catch your shoulder on the wall. Being in a new culture means having to re-learn so many things that you did with ease before or that you took for granted. So I decided that each day that I am here in Venezuela this December, I am going to do something "Christmasy", so that I can remember, and relearn how to celebrate this season.
My decorations went up a few weeks ago, and it was pretty easy since all the decorations I own here are a couple strings of lights for the window, a little nativity that I bought in Costa Rica, some snowflake ornaments my mom sent me last Christmas, and a stocking that I made with my Tica mom.
Today, I went to the International School where Mackenzie and Lukas attend school and enjoyed the elementary Christmas program. Mackenzie was a shepherd and Lukas just plain sang his heart out. There was a song with the best use of kazoos I have ever seen in a musical number. There were plenty of bearded and mustachioed little boys who were dressed as various shepherds and wise men. There was the child who alternated between crying and singing and a general look of stagefright. But best of all, there was the reminder that the reason this season is so wonderful, is that God chose to come and live among us, to change lives and history, to make a pathway for us to heaven.