Don’t get me wrong, Christmas to me will forever be synonymous with snow, fires, hot chocolate, sweaters and the like. There is, however, something delightful about ‘testing out’ other Christmas traditions.
Here are some of the things we’ve come to expect from Christmas in Lima:
1. Panettone (An Italian Sweet Bread)
2. A forecast of sunny and 75 degrees
3. Mimosas on our oceanview deck
4. Fireworks displays from 11-2 AM
As you might imagine, it’s growing on me. With Nia getting older we’re finally starting to incorporate some family traditions. For example, we did our first cookie baking this year. We also *tried* going to church on Christmas Eve but Nia only made it 15 minutes.
Speaking of church, we belong to a small expat church community that meets in a chapel each week. It tends to be about 50-70 people and the community coordinates all the elements of the mass and hospitality. Our guitarist/singer had to leave a few weeks ago and there’s been no one to replace her. It broke my heart to imagine Christmas mass without music so I decided I’d do what I could to find us some music.
I envisioned my role as recruiting singers and finding a guitarist or piano player. In actuality, what it ended up being was me taking on the quasi role of music director for the service.
Here’s how it played out:
Christmas caroling was supposed to happen at 5:30 and with no one else going forward to lead, I found myself standing at the front of the church taking requests and then leading the group in the carol of choice. My role expanded to include picking the music for the mass, announcing each song during mass and giving the starting pitch for the song (remember – we have no instruments). It was really wild – I’d start singing and get through about a line solo and then the congregation would start joining in with me.
There was something so beautiful about being able to use my gift of song in service of the community that night. It felt like true leadership – stepping up when something was needed and simply creating in the moment with the resources I had. It was the perfect real-world manifestation of all the things I just spent the year learning in my leadership program. Talk about a total natural high!
We didn’t have any family here this year, so that meant that skype would play a big role in facilitating our Christmas celebration. And while it’ll never be the same as being there in person, I’m so thankful to have a resource like skype that can help bridge the long distance between us and family. In fact, I’m honestly quite amazed at how comfortable Nia is with using skype. It’s no big deal at all for her to stand in front of the computer singing, talking and opening presents!
Nia is still totally sketched out by Santa. Even the mere mention of the “S” word has her retreating and shaking her head in fear. We’ll have to work on that for next year.
In Manila we started the tradition of having a Christmas morning brunch with neighbors and friends. We resurrected the idea again this year and gathered a lovely crowd to feast on pancakes, bacon, fruit and mimosas! Definitely a tradition worth keeping – dear friends are wonderful stand-ins for family when we’re not able to get home.
I leave you with one last amusing story. Nia is obsessed with all things electronic, especially smartphones, tablets and cameras. Nick’s long-time friend Kari treated Nia to her first pair of headphones. She was trying them out when we noticed her watching a My Little Pony Christmas special. I had never seen that before and I asked Nick about it. Turns out he was just as perplexed as me.
I guess these gadgets really are so intuitive that a 2 year old can navigate them because Nia managed to get into YouTube, locate a show she wanted AND download it. No lie. We may be looking at a future computer programmer here folks… until then, we’ll be upping the parental controls on our devices so that we don’t end up with any more surprise downloads!