African Christmas 1.0 (28/12/11)
Christmas for the Steere family is usually some hybrid of either an extended Steere or Johns family tradition, as we usually split our holidays between the U.S. with Andy’s family or Adelaide, South Australia with Mardi’s.
But this year was different…here in Kijabe, thousands of miles from our ‘home bases’ we had the opportunity to ask ourselves, ‘what do we value?’ and put into place some traditions we want to carry forward that our children will remember. This brought a ray of joy in the midst of our missing Christmas celebrations and tradition with extended family. The silent stillness of a night snowfall, Christmas celebrations at the beach and a swim after lunch, catching up with family you haven’t seen for a year.
This year we observed the 4 weeks of Advent (via an Advent calendar with the kids and daily readings from The Divine Hours) leading up to Christmas, attended Christmas eve carols and prayers, gave gifts to children in the hospital (see below), and had a Christmas celebration that tried to be about giving gifts, rather than only receiving them. With a 3 and a 4 year old, this was simultaneously hilarious and impossible!
It also included observing a traditional Norwegian White Christmas meal with good friends the Myhres on the 23rd, which was a highlight of the season for us.
Mardi’s parents arrived from Australia for a two week Christmas visit via Egypt and Jordan, and we’ve had a lovely time catching up with them and having some good grandchild-Mama-Poppa time.
We’ve had a lot of fun showing them around some of our favorite places.
The daily rains we’ve had for several weeks dried up just as they got here, and Kijabe has put on a good show for them: verdant greenery, unobstructed views of the Rift Valley, and wonderful temperatures. Christmas day was a balmy 24C, while it was below zero in Grand Rapids and a decade high of 36C in Adelaide!
Chris and Tom brought over some small toys to give to the children in the Hospital on Christmas Day, and so we went over to the pediatric ward Christmas morning and handed out little koalas and kangaroos to the kids and their parents. It was a beautiful and holy time to give a kind word and gift to those kids and families on Christmas.
Then it was time for Christmas lunch! We had Erik and Amanda Hansen and their brood of 4 over for Christmas dinner and there was much laughter and celebration. Erik is a paediatric surgeon who works with Mardi.
This season of Advent and Christmas was a meaningful one for us here in Kijabe; a time of new family traditions in a new place, sadness to be far from family and friends, and joy to be with new friends and with Chris and Tom.
It was a time to acknowledge the ‘already’ of the presence of Jesus around us in his Kingdom while we look forward to the ‘not yet’ of his coming again. As we celebrate the ‘advent’ of his birth 2000 years ago, we look forward to his coming again and bringing healing and restoration to the brokenness and injustice around us.
If you celebrate Christmas, Merry Christmas! If that’s not your tradition, Happy Holidays and may your new year be filled with peace and joy.