Thursday, December 15, 2016

Celebrating Christmas in a country that doesn't celebrate Christmas

Our first Christmas in our new little country.  It is an interesting time indeed.  It will be the first Christmas of Madison's life we won't be sharing it with her.  She came for the summer, and therefore we don't have the funds to get her here twice in one year.  So - she will be spending the time with her grandparents and her Aunt and Uncle in California. They have great plans for her, and I know she will be well cared for.

But here I sit, in a country that doesn't celebrate Christmas, and it's my favorite time of the year.  I'm not sure what to do with that yet.  Because we sold everything before we came, all of my Christmas decorations were sold right along with everything else.  I didn't realize that that was going to be a problem, thinking I would just pick up new stuff when I arrived in country.  However, we found out that the country doesn't celebrate it.  What do I mean by that?  Well - it's two-fold.  The first, the primary African culture here doesn't celebrate it, so there's that.  And secondly, the church does not celebrate it.  I've talked with a lot of pastors  since I've been here in respect to that, and have received varying reasons behind that.  The primary reason is that they believe celebrating a day that is not really Christ's birthday, along with all the peripheral decorations, etc. is offensive.  There are a few exceptions - and the little Baptist church we attend is one of them.  But, for 95% of the churches here, December 25th is just another day.

I love Christmas.  I love everything about it.  I love people getting together, I love Christmas parties, I love candle light worship services, I love hearing Christmas music in the mall, drinking hot cocoa in the cold, sitting in front of a fire place, decorating my house, seeing lights around the neighborhood, hearing Christmas music on the radio, every store decked out in lights, cutting down a Christmas tree, and just living in the season as we read our daily Advent and prepare our hearts for the coming of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  For me, all the things around Christmas all help lead my heart to that incredible celebration of the birth of the most important person to ever have lived.  That may sound superficial and materialistic to many.  I don't apologize for it - every time I see a Christmas display, I think of Jesus.  Every time I hear a Christmas song while out and about, I think of Jesus.  Every time I see lights and decorations, I think of Jesus.  For me, it's a time to say a prayer, and give glory to Him who is the Highest.

Even in Honduras, where Christmas is a huge event, although I was typically sweating on the day, there still were people all over who decorated for Christmas, Christmas programs at the schools, the mall was decked out to the max, they had bands playing music at the mall, and lights and displays around town.  Here?  Almost nothing.  So, in my attempts to make it feel a little like Christmas, I did the best I could with what I had.  Anyone who has come over to my house during Christmas would look around my house now and know how bare it looks.

I am making my cookies, and going to a gathering this weekend, and am trying to enjoy this season through the sweat of 95 degree days.  With no Christmas tree, no presents to unwrap, and no kid here to celebrate with, Christmas day is going to be a quiet event at the Pettengill house - just the two of us, with a city closed down, the streets empty, and no one around us celebrating.  A strange thing indeed.


Cathi Duggan said...

Hope it is a quieto season for ya'll as a couple! And enjoy some of those Dave things....iced Cocoa? A new foodie craze in the making!

Kelsey Weber said...

Hey Erin,
I couldn't see a way to contact you, so I thought I'd just send my message as a comment on your blog . . .

I thought you might be interested to know that your blog has been featured on the "Moms in Missions" website (

I also wanted to send you an invitation to join our Facebook group as we're trying to start up a new community group for missionary moms (