Christmas 2013

Christmas this year has been something that I've been dreading.

Don't I sound like a Scrooge!

But I started dreading Christmas last July. 

Now I sound like a chronic worrier.

Actually, July was one of the hardest months in my journey here in Europe. July was about the third month I had been here, the homesickness was so unbearable, and I just couldn't at that time imagine ever being happy on Christmas. All I could think about was the things I would be missing at home during the holidays - setting up the Christmas tree, going Christmas shopping with the family, snuggling up on Christmas Eve and watching a movie with the family, and opening the presents on Christmas morning. I knew I would be missing the laid back, pajama day full of games and playing with the new presents. And of course, the annual enchilada meal on Christmas. I just couldn't imagine being happy on Christmas away from home. 

Then I set up my own Christmas tree on the Monday before Thanksgiving, and I even made a big Thanksgiving meal and shared it with friends here! And, to my surprise, Thanksgiving wasn't that hard. Now, sure, I missed being with my family, but I had fun here too.

And then, December began. 

But I didn't think about Christmas, because I didn't want to be sad. Sure, I bought presents for the family, decorated the apartment, but I didn't think about the day of Christmas. 

And here we are. 

And, if I don't think about what I'm missing with my family, I'm totally fine. Although I have a Christmas tree, a decorated apartment, and even a few gifts, it just doesn't feel like Christmas.

So, this girl who lives abroad is, in a sense, skipping Christmas. This last week, I've been reading and meditating on the Christmas story, and really focusing on the meaning of Christmas. But it just doesn't feel like Christmas. And I am somewhat glad about that - so I don't have to feel sad.

I had a wonderful Christmas dinner and present-opening here with the family! It was fun to watch the kids open their presents - and to see the joy in their faces as they watched their parents open the gifts that the kids had made for them! :) 

But I wanted to share a Christmas memory with you - my favorite Christmas present.

When my siblings and I were younger, my parents tried to have about the same amount of presents for each of the children, so that no one would feel left out. But I remember the year that I got the least amount of presents. As I see this now, I realize just how utterly selfish I was to be sad about having one less present than my siblings, but as a child, that was really an important thing. I knew better than to act disappointed and that I should be thankful for what I had, but after everyone was finished unwrapping their gifts, I had to make an effort to look happy as everyone else started playing with their gifts. 

Then Dad, walked over to the tree, and said, "What is this in here?" And he reached into the branches at the top of the tree and pulled out an unwrapped gift. 

I remember being so excited, so overjoyed that I was jumping up and down as he handed me the brand new book of the series I had been following. I was so excited that I hadn't been forgotten. And I gave him a hug, and I will never forget the look of joy in his face. I now recognize that joy as the joy of giving. 

So, that's my favorite Christmas present - and I still treasure that book! 

What are my plans for tomorrow?

I am going to give myself the present of sleep - sleeping until I wake up! Pajama day! And then time to put in the turkey and read a new book. Skyping with the family, and maybe a dinner with the neighbors!

So, that's my Christmas! I hope all of you have a great day, filled with family and relaxing!


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