Monday, December 19, 2011
It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas...or not.
Seems hard to believe that it is the middle of December already. That means that we have been here for 5 1/2 months. In many ways that time has flown by, in other ways it feels like a lifetime.
It also means that Christmas is just around the corner. Is it just me or did it seem to sneak up this year? Perhaps it has been the busyness of life that has made it seem like that. I mean, our life right now is crazy busy. We were told before we came that the program would be intense. That is the understatement of the year. It's like saying that the Titanic had a little leak. We are just managing to keep up with the pace of life that we are faced with. So maybe that has something to do with it not feeling like Christmas should be here already.
Or, perhaps it is because outside it doesn't look at all like what Christmas has always looked like for us. It is so strange to look outside and see palm trees every day. There is no change. No fall leading into winter. No shorter days and colder mornings. No frost on the car windows. No snow, winter clothes, shoveling sidewalks, putting snow tires on the car, warming up the car, plugging in the car so it will start the next day, digging the car out of a snowdrift, getting your tongue stuck to a frozen pole. All those wonderful memories of winter, Canadian-style (okay, maybe not all of them are fond memories...). It has been really strange to anticipate the "winter" months, thinking that there are lots of things to get done before the snow comes, only to realize "Hey, wait. I'm in the tropics."
Perhaps it is partly due to the extended Christmas season here. I have been hearing Christmas music in the malls since August (seriously!). Christmas displays have been up since September. There have been Christmas lights up since at least then as well. Kids have been out caroling on the streets for at least a month. Don't get me wrong, I really appreciate how much Christmas is loved and celebrated here, but I am so used to the progression from back-to-school season into Halloween season into Christmas season. I know that as of November 1 Christmas stuff will start appearing in the stores, Christmas songs and carols will start to be played on the radio, and Christmas lights and decorations will start to be displayed on people's houses. This year it has been very different, and I think the length of time has something to do with it.
Maybe it is because our house doesn't look Christmas-y like it has every year for the past decade. We have a tree up (a 3' tall sad looking Charlie Brown tree) with some of our decorations on it. The kids have made a few decorations as well. But otherwise it doesn't look all that festive. We used to have boxes (and boxes and boxes) of Christmas decorations which I had to haul out of storage each year (not my favorite day of the year!). We would decorate the whole house with lots of stuff accumulated over the years, some more sentimental than others, but all of it was ours. It was a part of what made it feel like Christmas in our house.
Or perhaps it has to do with the distance that we are separated from family and friends. Because that was always the most important part of the Christmas celebration - time with family and friends. Our Christmas traditions changed a few times over the years, but even when the traditions changed the people stayed the same (with a few additions due to marriages and births). Whether it was Christmas Eve at our house after church, Christmas day spent at various locations, Boxing Day with Kerri's family, or any of the family get-togethers leading up to Christmas, it was all about the family and friends; the quality time together. This year that cannot happen. It is not a matter of a quick trip in the car to visit. No, instead we are oceans and worlds apart.
Christmas this year will look very different. I know that it will be good - the four of us are here together - but it will be different.