But especially here in Mbale, you don’t see every store decked out in Christmas decorations with a new Santa product on every shelf. Lights don’t sparkle on the roofs of each house (or any house for that matter). There isn’t a culture battle over saying ‘Happy Holidays’ instead of ‘Merry Christmas.’ And since most families can’t buy every child and relative a Christmas present, clothes are actually considered a GREAT present (even by the kids)! You even might, if you’re lucky, see a tree decked out for Christmas, African style like this one:
Please note the cotton ball snow
Oh wait, you need the full effect.....!!
But the best part is that almost every family makes the effort to go to church on Christmas. You remember all of those awkward years when Christmas fell on a Sunday and you couldn’t decide how to handle it? Do we open presents really early? Do we wait until after church? Do we play heathen and just not go? Well here, everyone goes to church Christmas morning, whether or not it falls on a Sunday.
And yes, that makes the whole gift opening thing a bit more awkward. And yes, an African church service can go long and sometimes you have to fight to stay happy that you’re there. But I do think that starting off Christmas day with a service to remember why we celebrate such a holiday isn’t such a bad idea. Like all things, it can be what you make it. Some people cook early in the morning, show up late, and spend the rest of service worrying about Christmas lunch getting cold. Others spend the time wondering what their parents could have possibly gotten for them. But for those who choose to utilize the opportunity, it’s a great way to ‘remember the reason for the season.’ To stop all of the preparation, activity, and hullabaloo for a moment and really thank God for the gift of His Son.
The incarnation of our Savior is one of the most important events of all history. My hope and prayer for each of us this Christmas is that we wouldn’t allow that awesome truth be overshadowed with the unimportant. That this Christmas would truly be a time of celebration of Jesus for you and your family.
And while my family is enjoying the beauty of Christmastime in the States, I get to bask in a totally different style of beauty here in Africa.
Merry Christmas everyone!