Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Let it Snow!

OK, I'm going to be brutally honest! I grew up in Wisconsin and Christmas and snow always went together kind of like salt and pepper. We spent our December days dreaming of a white Christmas and most years we were not disappointed. The magic of snowfall and the quiet crispness of an evening under freshly fallen snow was something I treasured. It never seemed quite as cold when the earth was blanketed with snow.

Fast forward to my first Christmas away from home. I was in southern Mexico, at a jungle training camp. Even though jungle sounds hot, it was quite chilly - no heat, thatch roof hut, etc. That first year wasn't so bad, nor was the second one. That second year I was newly married and the novelty of being a honeymooner hadn't worn off yet. So the fact that Christmas came and went without snow didn't bother me too much.

Fast forward again to our first Christmas in Brazil. This was really far from home and absolutely far from anything remotely resembling snow. Now for my confession...I don't know whether I missed my immediate family more, the snow more or whether it was that all the traditions that were part of Christmas had been ripped away, but my first several Christmases in Brazil were marked by profound homesickness and times of tears and sadness. If I heard "White Christmas" or "Jingle Bells" or "It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas" I would go into a tailspin of homesickness. If I had the option, I would turn those tunes off! Perhaps it had something to do with being the second oldest of 8 children which meant that I had a significant part to play in making Christmas a fun time of the year for the rest of my siblings. In any case, I hate to admit that it took me many, many years to separate Christmas and snow and to begin to enjoy Christmas in the tropics with improvised Christmas trees made of "palm branch" and 85 degree weather.

We (our little family) began to make our own traditions. Over time, one of our favorites was to go swimming and boating on Christmas Day! Being all together on Christmas was a high priority. The last Christmas we spent together with John, we were in Dallas, TX and it snowed. I can see in my mind's eye, the delight of all three kids plus their dad, romping in the snow as it fell, building a snowman, throwing snowballs - it was all such a novelty for my "jungle" kiddos.

I still have a soft spot in my heart for snow at Christmas time, but not enough to make the trek to Wisconsin or even Iowa and risk having to drive in a snowstorm. But Christmas is far more about treasuring special times with those who are closest and dearest to me - and even making new memories and traditions. And it's all about celebrating the baby, Emmanuel - God with us - who makes it possible for us to be with God for all eternity.

What are your memories of Christmas and snow? I'd love to have you share them.

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