When I was a child growing up in Texas, there was a day when my dad gathered us five kids to show us “Wisconsin” on a road map and told us that we were moving there. I distinctly remember my 7-year-old wonder: There is another place to live besides here?
I enjoyed the Wisconsin winter — with the ice rink Dad made in our backyard and getting my own skates — but my dear Mom did not. Being from Canada, she loathed cold weather, so after two Christmases, we returned to Texas.
“Memories are riches,” Catherine Marshall wrote, and today I am looking at my Christmas treasures.
From singing a solo in big church when I was five, (“I, said the donkey, shaggy and brown, I carried his mother up hill and down . . .”) to the noisy-happy gatherings with all my siblings and all our children, and games and gifts and special foods, The Family Photo production (it was a production.), reading Luke 2, and listening to my parents tell their spiritual stories – Texas Christmases were wonderful.
My first Christmas as a wife was in the Northwoods, Wisconsin again, and both God and Jake outdid themselves . . . the white birch trees and lake covered with generous new snow and a wicker-basket trunk full of gifts from my romantic husband. (Yes, we were romantic back then. :o) )
In Bolivia, our celebrations of Christmas were simple and short. My favorite tradition was working with the camp team making gift bags for the children in the neighbor village and hosting a day of games and Christmas drama for them.
One year our family bussed to Chile for the holiday, and enjoyed Christmas Eve sleeping in tents in a national park. We drew names and made homemade gifts from whatever could be found. On our tree is the ornament Daughter #1 made me: a small piece of ‘engraved’ (i.e. scratched) driftwood, ‘Chile ‘94’, hanging by a thin strip of dirty-white gauze from the first aid kit.
Another place we had Christmas was Dubai. The Middle East, the unique foods, the desert starry night sky, riding a camel . . . well, I didn’t actually get on the camel, but I liked watching the others . . . that was an exotic Christmas.
Speaking of camels, the Christmas we went to Spain we saw gigantic camel floats carrying the Three Wisemen in the January 6th Kings Day parade. It was interesting seeing the Spanish Navidad customs.
Christmas in Ethiopia – balmy, sandy, acacia trees, and wild birds and mammals — was unique and unforgettable, and far from the experiences we enjoyed while living in Ireland — soft rain, Celtic concerts, craft markets, walking around the decorated town delivering cookies and cards.
See why I feel rich? It’s because I am.
So many different places, different settings, but in each place we celebrated Jesus.
We partied because He came to us, to our place, this earth, to gather us and show us the road map, like my dad did that day long ago.
Jesus came to tell us: There is Another Place to live besides here.
Do you suppose we will celebrate Christmas there?
I wonder . . .