Friday, December 24, 2010

My Christmas is a little bit different.

 I think I say this every year, but it's true-- Christmas in Liberia is just not the same.

It is hot and sticky. The bombardment of advertising and media yelling at you that it is Christmas-- be happy already, is replaced by ceaseless requests for 'something small' and reminders that 'their Christmas is on me." (In fact, I've already been interrupted three times writing this blog.)

Despite the differences, this year feels more like Christmas. (What does that mean? How does it 'feel' like Christmas?) I have been trying to decide why. What's different? This is my third Christmas in Liberia, and the first time it has really 'felt' like Christmas. Is it familiarity? Tradition? I've been here long enough to say, "This is what we have done the last few years..."

For what ever reason, there are things that make this time of year seem Christmassy to me. Wrapping Christmas presents, Christmas lights and songs and cookies and decorating a tree. Most of those things have not been available to me here in years past. But, as we say here, Liberia is coming up. Wrapping paper is being sold at the supermarkets. My neighbors have Christmas lights strung on their house. I have an oven now and a plethora of baked goods have been produced. Men are selling Christmas trees on the streets in town, carrying them on their heads, I even saw someone trying to stuff one into the back of a full taxi. I bought one for five dollars.

There is a decorated tree in my living room with wrapped presents underneath it. What?

Christmas in Liberia has also become about the Children. I guess that may be obvious, I  am here working with orphans. Each December we spend days, preparing, sorting, piling up, wrapping-- clothes, shoes, toys, apples (an apple means, I love you), for the kids. Christmas delivery days are the best. Well, they are a lot of hard work and some times frustrating. But, there is always a moment where it all makes sense. A moment where I remember why I am here.

This was THE moment for me this year. The moment where it all made sense. The moment that Lucky's eyes  met mine, her whole face-- those amazing eyes, lit up. She felt it and so did I.


Whether or not those physical 'Christmassy' things are making a difference this year, I am learning more and more that things being different does not mean it is bad. And Christmas is not about where you are as much as it is about who you love. I love God, my friends, family, and the kiddos here, no matter where I am in the world. That alone brings the joy of Christmas close.

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