Tradition is a big thing in our family….especially at Christmas. Since we have been married, Michael and I have carried on certain traditions that our extended families started long ago and we have begun our own as well. Thankfully, though we are far from “home” and everything familiar, we were able to continue some of our favorite Christmas traditions… and begin new ones!
We always fill an advent calendar with candy and the kids enjoy counting down the days until December 25th, eating their sweet treats. This year, rather than putting candy in each little box, I wrote an activity for each of the 24 days. Every morning, the kids would run into the living room to see what activity was in that day’s box. We had a lot of fun together, and I don’t think I’ll ever go back to candies again!
Another tradition is to build a gingerbread house. Of course, we always buy one of those kits from Michael’s Crafts with the pre-made EVERYTHING! Not having that luxury (and not yet wanting to experiment with making my own), I hot-glued cookies together and had the kids decorate this lovely village. They had a blast decorating with icing, cereal, sprinkles, lollipops, marshmallows and chocolate chips (not too many though…since we only brought a limited amount from America). Our little engineer, Brody, built a car out of treats, and MiKenna, after her new-found love, designed a rip stick.
Every Christmas Eve, we eat pizza with Michael’s family (usually at Pizza Hut), and our friends, the Cooks, would do the same thing with their family. This year, Nate made an awesome Pizza Hut sign out near their brick oven where we all had pizza together for Christmas Eve dinner!
After dinner, we walked down to Kijabe Hospital to sing Christmas Carols to the patients. Our group went through the pediatric unit to sing to the children and their families who had to be in the hospital during Christmas. It was a difficult thing to see such sickly children on, what seems like should be, such a jolly night. One couple was standing beside a bed where their two small children were laying, both hooked up to machines. That sure tugged at this mama’s heart…. Gifts were given to the patients, songs of Christ’s birth were sung, smiles were exchanged, tears were shed, and we were so thankful to be part of such a ministry opportunity that night.
Next, RVA held a beautiful candlelight Christmas Eve Service and then we were off to our house to watch Polar Express, a tradition since the movie came out!
It was tough being away from our families in North Carolina during this significant holiday. Talking with them on FaceTime wasn’t quite the same as being there. This 2015 Christmas season has been filled with many wonderful memories and we are thankful to the Lord for surrounding us with great people here in Kijabe. And what fun we’ve had here with….Fiesta Fridays, cookie exchange, Gingerbread contest, dinners at new friends’ houses, and just continuing to explore and enjoy this beautiful place!