Monday, 10 January 2011

Christmas celebrations

In the 8 Christmases we have celebrated together since being married no two have been quite the same, with great variations in both location and the people with whom we have celebrated. In the early years growing up I remember Christmas being a really magical time with the mountain of gifts that would mysteriously appear under the tree on Christmas morning and the letters I would receive from father Christmas in response to letters I would have written and sent to him. After these magical moments disappeared once I discovered the truth, Christmases became somewhat empty and even at times a great disappointment.

Once we got married we were both quite excited about forming our own Christmas traditions so that it would become a special celebration once again with the right focus and Christ at the centre. However, it didn't all happen and fall into place as quickly as I had imagined it would. Every year since our marriage we have been battling over the same questions, so what is Christmas really all about? What makes Christmas, Christmas? How can we escape the entrapment of commercialism? How can we make it be a special time of celebration for our own family? How can we bring Christ back at the centre of it all?

There are many aspects about Christmas time that we really love, the carols, the candle lit carol services, time seeing friends and family, sharing of gifts and good food. Being here in Bolivia has caused us to evaluate many of these things as many of the evangelical churches and Christians here have rather extreme views as to Christmas celebrations and all the trimmings to the extent that it is not celebrated at all, with not even a mention made as to the birth of our saviour.

It has been good for us to have been able to take a step back from all the usual buzz, to be challenged about what aspects are important to us and why. This year I found that I wasn’t full of all the questions, and yet it was the best Christmas we have celebrated in a long time, being stress free and full of good gifts that God has given to us.

We took great pleasure in the months leading up to Christmas baking and cooking particular Christmas delights, and putting together gifts for friends. As a family we had fun collecting together small pine cones which we then painted and covered with glitter to decorate a tree. We made each other Christmas gifts and shared great delight in opening each others creations on Christmas day. As we put together our little nativity scene we read through the story of Christ's coming to earth as a baby.

Christmas eve we celebrated Bolivian style with a meal of Picana (spicy stew) together with good friends and enjoyed much fun and laughter. At the end of the meal we also each got to share about the things we had been thankful to God for during this last year, of which there was indeed much to give thanks about.

Christmas morning we took our time enjoying watching each other open presents, talking with family, then enjoyed lunch with other friends and a time of relaxing. It was nice to reach the end of the day feeling relaxed and happy and without an overfull bloated tummy from having eaten too much.

There are still a few things we would like to do a little different next Christmas, however, it was good day of celebration which we both felt drew us closer to some of the true sentiments of what Christmas is really all about.

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