Christmas has been one of the hardest seasons for me to balance between our two world. I don’t know why, but it has been the area where I found it hard to let go of my home world and embrace our host world. There were so many memories wrapped up in Christmas day that Christmas day was vitally important to me and was a piece that I held on to tightly. This year Joel challenged me to let that go. Not to let go of the idea of traditions or the traditions of our home world, but to let go of Christmas day and to find a new way to live those traditions out while embracing the people people and culture God has called us to. So this year we experimented and changed what Christmas looks like and for the first time since being here I feel like we found a healthy balance of our two worlds.
Here was a little of what Christmas looked for us…
It all began on Wednesday evening as we gathered together as women to prepare the meat for our Christmas Eve Church meal. We started Wednesday cutting, cleaning and marinating a pig. The next morning we met back early to cook the meat in a pot so that it would grill quickly in evening. At the same time we cleaned, cut and seasoned 20 chickens. We started at 8am and finally ended around 1pm.
Around 9:30 we shared dinner together. It was truly a late – but glorious night.
The next day – Christmas Day – we woke up early and began cooking. Here in Senegal one of the traditions is to share food with your neighbors on whatever holiday you celebrate. If you remember on other holidays here we often get food from our neighbors, so now was our turn to share food with them. This was the first year we took on this challenge, but I am so glad we did.
We divided the food up in 7 dishes and delivered them around to our neighbors. It was a great opportunity to share with our boys why we were changing Christmas morning so that we could share this celebration with those in our neighborhood.
We then loaded up the car, picked up one of our neighbors and headed our to our host families village to celebrate with them for the day. The first few years we were here I convinced our host family to celebrate with us on the day after Christmas as I wasn’t ready to give up my Christmas day. However this year we were ready to be there on this important day right alongside them.
We returned home late and tired, but really happy to have spent this day with our family and our neighbors.
My mom had sent over crackers, cheese and other special treats that we enjoyed together.
We rejoice – because the savoir has come! Merry Christmas!