Follow-Up on my Christmas post, 2014.

This fancy blog of ours has a “site stats” function. It tells me fun things like who’s subscribing to the blog, which pages are being looked at, etc. A few weeks ago, while making sure I had an updated subscriber list so those interested get their notices on time, I saw that the post “10 on the 10th, Christmas Edition” had recently been viewed. At first it worried me, that I’d started a post and published an unfinished version because I certainly hadn’t written a Christmas blog post yet. As the daughter of a pristine (read recovering perfectionist) administrative assistant, the idea that I’d sent something out that was incomplete horrified me….but only for a second. Then I realized the post I was seeing was the one from last year. It piqued my interest, so my curious eyes began to read what I’d written exactly one year before. What I read was interesting to me, and filled me with many wonderings about what this Christmas would be like. Well, Christmas 2015 came and went and it was fun to see which things Becky from 2014 was right about and which things she’d gotten totally wrong.

Here’s the list of things I wrote about in that 2014 blog post, things I thought we might miss as we’d celebrate Christmas for the first time away from the good ole USofA. The words in italics are how it actually went down.

1. Operation Christmas Child and the Collection Center at our church. National Collection Week came and went in November. Other than closely following the work at our Church as a Collection Center for OCC, our family had no involvement with packing shoeboxes for the first time in years. Our season wasn’t ushered in by counting, taping, packing and lifting those heavy boxes into tractor trailer trucks…and I was RIGHT, we missed it.

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Sending out shoeboxes, November 2013.

2. The commercial aspect of Christmas. This was something I thought I would miss, and I did. While we were able to do a little shopping in Nairobi and they even had stuff decorated for the season, it wasn’t the same. We aren’t in the city at night, so there aren’t any dinners and shopping excursions in light-covered shops. We also don’t drive by homes or stores that are decorated on a daily basis, so it just feels like any other day. It helps the post-Christmas blues not to be so intense, but I still missed it. 

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Mall Santa, Nairobi. December 2015.

3. Nate’s tree and his complete adoration of it every moment of every day from Thanksgiving to January 1 and beyond. I was sort of right, sort of wrong. Well, it wasn’t HIS tree, but we were able to find an affordable tree in a store in Nairobi that we love. Nate still made sure it was plugged in 24/7.IMG_5195

4. Christmas movies at the Theater and Hallmark movies. I think they play movies in Nairobi, but maybe not in english? Definitely not planning on going to the theater for a while. Still hoping I can stream at least a movie or two from Hallmark to our computer, but not counting on it. I was SO wrong. We went to the movies in Nairobi, saw the latest Peanuts movie with the kids in English and ate popcorn. We definitely missed the Hallmark channel holiday tv movies, but between the ones we brought and many we borrowed we watched a Christmas movie with our kids nearly every night at home! I was also wrong about being able to stream movies, but that’s a blog post entitled, Trying to get reliable internet in Africa, and I’ll save it for another day. 

5. Our traditional foods. Pizza on Christmas Eve. Granny’s goodies like beef logs, pickled beets and fresh collards cooked with ham hocks. I think we did a pretty good job of replicating what we are used to eating for Christmas. Luckily, we have the pizza oven, so Christmas’ Eve was easy. Nate got his Nonnie’s special recipe date pinwheels and pickled peaches and I got my fill of peanut butter balls, Oreo balls, fudge and all manner of things dipped in chocolate. IMG_5463

6. The lights everywhere we go. I love driving at night during Christmastime, counting snoopy’s, snowmen and baby Jesus’ in manger scenes. Not really allowed to drive after dark here. It’s just not safe. Plus, we live an hour from the city and folks just don’t line their little mud homes with lights….especially since many don’t have electricity! Not even sure the kids realized they were missing this, but I sure was! 

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Hometown decorations. December 2014.

7. Christmas cards. I love sending and receiving them. While we may still find a way to send them next year, I doubt we’ll receive many before December is over. I’ve never been happier to be so very WRONG! Not only were we able to send cards of our own thanks to the generosity of Mimi’s ladies group at her church, but we also received at least 30 cards in the mail! More than half of them came in one large envelope we weren’t expecting from a church  and it was such a great surprise. They are still lining our walls. It’s great to see the familiar Christmas scenes and feel remembered during the season. 

8. All the musical productions. I love watching Aunt Miss Angel grin from ear to ear as she leads the children’s choir in Baby Jesus We Love You. I love going to watch whatever special thing Uncle Rusty is into over the holiday. I love preparing every week with the church choir filled with people I know and love for Christmas special music numbers for weeks at a time. I’ll miss sharing this season of music with those I love. I was RIGHT. This was something I definitely missed, but hopefully once Granddad figures out how to send the videos, we will get to at least see a few of the performances. I wrote a little about this in a previous post. If you missed it, you can click HERE to read all about it. Missed the kids being on stage, staring off into space or singing with all their might and dressing like shepherds. Maybe next year I’ll put a little something together myself. Plenty of kids around here for a little nativity play. 

Kids Christmas Play. December, 2013.

Kids Christmas Play. December, 2013.

9. I love the holiday travel. I know it sounds crazy, but we almost always fly somewhere to visit family over Christmas. It’s a tradition of sorts and I’ll miss it. I was RIGHT. We didn’t board a plane and I kinda missed it. I mostly missed going to Oklahoma to be with Nate’s family, especially when we spent a little time on FaceTime with them, hearing about the forecast for snow. 

Christmas Travels. December 2005.

Christmas Travels. December 2005.

10. And the last, most obvious thing, is the people we love. Our friends who ride the train with us and visit Santa with us. Our friends who come over with a moment’s notice to sit around, sip Nate’s Nectar and watch the kid’s latest “shows.” Our family with whom we spend 80 percent of our time and our family we see only every so often. We will miss them all, especially when Christmas 2015 rolls around. I was SO RIGHT. But while we missed our families, we were glad to at least get to talk with them on Christmas Day. And as always, God provided plenty of great friends to fill our day with cheer and merriment….some of whom were even eluded to in the list above. 

As you can see, I was wrong about a few things, but right about more. While I was right about missing so much of what we’ve always known Christmas to be, I didn’t even know what our new Christmas could be. The new traditions. The fun nightly activities of advent from house-to-house. Taking the fun times with the challenges dotted in between, we made it through our first set of major holidays away from home. It feels like quite the accomplishment, even though it really wasn’t all that hard. There’s just something about Christmas, celebrating the coming of the King of Kings, past, present and future that makes it hard to be too sad for too long during this season.

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All I want for Christmas is my two front teeth…

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It’s definitely a new tradition to go on a safari during Christmas break!

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Making candy cane cookies…in a dorm kitchen. Gotta love friends who are living at a boarding school.

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One of the many December advent events.

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Marky the Elf made his way to Kenya, bringing old, familiar traditions with him.

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So happy we brought our stockings from home!

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And a few Christmas photos in frames too. Love this one of Sutton’s first Christmas, with Uncle Rusty Santa.

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I was missing our annual cookie decorating even with friends, then an invitation to decorate cookies at a friend’s house came! So grateful.

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Another advent event.

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Ladies Cookie Exchange. Another thing I usually do every Christmas that happens in Kenya too.

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Gingerbread house, from scratch. Y’all. Living in Africa ain’t no joke. 🙂

I’m gonna end with a ton of photos of some of the great things we got to be a part of here in Kijabe that helped make this Christmas special in its own way, as well as some photos of things we were able to do/have that made it feel like home.

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Elf shoes from home. We only packed the absolute essentials.

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Hot cocoa bar during advent.

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Making birthday cards for Jesus during advent.

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One of the biggest surprises to us has been the fun of getting packages from friends far away! They used to only come from Mimi and Pops at Christmas…now they come from so many places!

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It’s not Christmas till you’ve pickled peaches!

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RVA candelight service.

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Beckett’s first time getting to participate in a candlelight service.

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Getting to hand out gifts to families of pediatric patients in the hospital while we caroled on Christmas Eve. Definitely a new tradition, but one we already love.

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Keeping up age old traditions of cookies and milk for Santa.

And as for New Years….well, we haven’t been up to watch the ball drop for a few years now. I guess at least this year, being 8 hours ahead of NYC, we can watch it drop while we eat our breakfast…if we can get the internet to work, of course!