If you know me…you know that Christmas (to quote Buddy the elf)…is a GINORMOUS event in our family…and it has been for most of my life.
We Ellis’ love a good Christmas season. My cousin a few years ago had her Christmas wreath (or tree?) up the day after Halloween…we carry the same genes and are made from the same mold, and we like to stretch out Christmas as long as possible. So I welcome Christmas music in early November and I often times have my decorations up through New Years Day.
Every day of December I have a stocking that is filled with something for us to do to prepare for Christmas day. A daily advent “stocking” activity: an act of service, cookies to bake, a musical to see, a present to wrap, a song to sing, a live nativity to experience. I do miss those little stockings over the mantel, and haven’t quite figured out how to convert my family traditions to our UG apartment. There are more reasons that I will discuss later as to why I have not gone all out and done Crazy Jenni Cockerham Christmas in Uganda…but the girl who goes BIG at Christmas time is a bit of a Christmas minimalist this year!
Minimalist at Christmas? It can’t be?? Jenni, surely you can find other options and ways to celebrate and prepare!?!? I actually think if I had realized we would still be here for Christmas I would have likely devoted an entire suitcase to be filled with decorations, treats, and Christmas comforts. So there is that. But here the Christmas decorations are a RACKET. First of all–sorry–I try to only say positive–but this is my favorite season and I have very very high expectations for Christmas decorations. These are honestly a bit gaudy, WAY over-priced, and remind me of something to be found in my grandmothers attic. One wreath I found was 153,000 shillings which is about 60 bucks. It was spray painted silver pine cones and some sort of twigs and branches twisted together! Christmas lights are expensive, and I just keep thinking I don’t think I can pay for something I have back in the states and love for something that is SO expensive and uses a different socket than at home! I did however find on the bottom shelf of a grocery store a wreath that you will see pictured below. It was 7,000 shillings. I made them do a price check twice because it is a plug in wreath that lights up and also flashes and does other crazy things. Something I would have passed by at Target, but a GEM that is displayed proudly in our kitchen right now! (This–to clarify was $2.75!) What? Thank you God for this little Christmas miracle! Besides the wreath we have decided to go homemade this year. We did an advent tree made of plastic plates so every day we count down to Christmas by checking out our tree that hangs in the window. Also Kylee and I worked VERY hard to make these snowflake/Christmas stars ( paper snowflakes ) that hang over our kitchen table! (Thank you Sarah Mullins!) They were an absolute craft highlight so far…but there are more Christmas crafts to come!
(Yep, a tad bit different this year!)
(These just make me HAPPY! 7 Snowflakes for the 7 Cs!)
All of this to say–Christmas is different this year. One difference is without all my stockings, and shopping and other distractions the daily advent reading ( JESUS STORY BOOK ADVENT ) has been our Christmas focus each day. Our advent time has been so very sweet to have a daily reading from something that EVERYONE can understand. And to have discussion and prepare our hearts not just weekly with my beautiful purple, pink, and white candles…but daily has been good for my soul. Thank you Sara Walters for suggesting it–it has literally been and will be our focal point for Christmas this year. For those who are interested in a daily family reading between now and Christmas, check this out…her blog also has great ideas about how to do daily activities as a family to prepare your hearts and minds for Christmas…it is only the 3rd…they are short you can catch up quick! (The author of this blog sounds almost as nutty as I am about Christmas…but I win…I just do.)
The biggest difference I have noticed about Christmas is the kids’ conversations. Kylee is trying to figure out thoughtful homemade gifts for her friends. About a week ago I overheard her say to her friend, “All I want for Christmas is my mom and dad under the same roof.” Wow. That will stop you cold. And considering that I am sweating like crazy this December, this is quite difficult to do! Coming from Kylee, whose love language is “gifts,”…she loves to think of thoughtful things to do and create for others! She is always helping ME be creative and thoughtful with my gifts for family and friends. My birthdays have exponentially changed for the better over the past 9 years because thoughtful Kylee ensures that my next birthday is better than the last. This girl gives and receives love through gifts. So for Kylee Cockerham to say, ALL she wanted was for her mom and dad to be in the same place about laid me out. If I was hoping my children would have some perspective change while spending a few months in Uganda–I believe we are close to mission accomplished. I know we all have many more lessons to learn while we are here–but I am truly truly thankful for the things that we are learning and the ways my children are maturing. It was Mary who was told good news of her son and she “treasured them in her heart”…this mom is treasuring the life lessons that are being learned and the ways that He is transforming ALL of us from the inside out. We will NEVER be the same!
So THANK YOU Uganda for a more quiet Christmas. For not having the Christmas displays that distract and cause me to go fill up my cart with stuff that will rust and pull my heart away from what really matters. I am glad Christmas items are a bit gaudy and overpriced because it is allowing for hours of quality time with my daughter creating snowflakes and memories that will last a life
I am also thankful for the opportunity to spend this Christmas with new friends. We hosted a December 3rd Christmas pancake breakfast at our place this morning–not fancy but the pancakes were green and reddish (pink)?!? Our friends’ hubbies headed back to the US yesterday so our houses are all wives flying solo and I knew that the morning after Chris left I would have liked to have a pancake party! Love these precious people and the things that I am learning from them, the fellowship for our children, and the ways that I have felt so supported during the time while Chris has been away.
Check out her “winter” scarf!!!
Jonathan with his pancakes and honey–he doesn’t like any bread without it!
Smiles and clean plates from little boys with earaches make me happy!
(I am sorry but please stop and get excited about our rockin’ wreath for $2.75!)
There are more Christmas blogs coming–it is a subject too close to my heart. But I pray as this month begins that you will take some time to TRULY slow down. That you would not let the glitz and glimmer or the “to do list” distract from what really matters this season. Because the parties, friends, family, food, service projects, and the rest are good…but if they take away from the true meaning of this holiday…one that came from VERY humble beginnings with no glitz, glam, or glory. Then maybe just maybe we need to re-think our GINORMOUS Christmas holiday.
May You Be a Blessing and May Christmas Be a Blessing to You!