Christmas in Hot, Sunny Zambia

Though the meaning of Christmas has nothing to do with the weather outside or the people you’re with or the food on the table, it’s amazing how much those things naturally seem to cultivate feelings of Yuletide cheer.

Seeing as how we have none of the things we are used to relying on for getting us in the Christmas spirit (jackfrost nipping at your nose, folks dressed up like eskimos, snow…and mistletoe, family all together, crackling fire in the fireplace, too much delicious food and treats, singing carols at church), we have to work harder to remind ourselves that it really IS Christmas. Here are a few things that we’ve done or are doing:

  • Decorate the house for Christmas, including setting up our 4-foot tall artificial tree and hanging up the Noel Advent Calendar.
  • Make a Christmas music playlist on our iPod that we don’t mind listening to over and over. And while we’re at it, buy a few new Christmas songs to add to the mix (some from Sojourn, Fernando Ortega, and Oscar Peterson).
  • Thank God for generous family and supporters, who sent packages full of love for Christmas – Christmas candy, coffee, puzzles, yummy treats, American salsa, REAL maple syrup, presents, and more.
  • Eat Christmas candy and put puzzles together!
  • Watch Christmas movies or tv shows – It’s a Wonderful Life, Charlie Brown Christmas, various “Little House on the Prairie” Christmas episodes, Joyeux Noel, The Nativity Story, White Christmas, and others.
  • Watch “Band of Brothers.” This isn’t really a Christmas movie series, but it has become a tradition for us. There is so much that reminds and prompts us to live a war-time lifestyle (if you open the link, #11-12 are especially informative regarding the phrase “war-time lifestyle”).
  • Read Bible passages (daily Advent readings) and books that draw our attention to the real meaning of Christmas. Right now, I’m in the middle of “The Best Christmas Pageant Ever.” Yes, not really adult literature, I know…but still good!
  • Go caroling. Zambians have no idea what caroling is, but some of our teammates initiated a caroling and gift-giving evening, and it was so fun!
  • Make Christmas cookies, enough to eat and give away. 
  • Take vacation time and diligently pursue joy in remembering the birth of our Savior and all the incredible blessings we have and we can give because Christ took on human flesh.
  • Skype with family and friends.

One of the unique and amazing joys of celebrating Christmas in Zambia and not at home in Minnesota or Wisconsin is that Christmas becomes much more simple. There is not as much around us to confuse us into thinking that the pleasures of snow and family equal joy in Christ.

It really is incredible that the promises of great joy and gladness because of the coming of a Savior are still as true today, even in Zambia with so much poverty and sorrow, as they were 2,000 years ago. So, from Zambia, we wish you a very joy-filled Christmas!

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