Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Esential Christmas

Last friday we celebrated Christmas with my friends and coworkers. There was a pool, tropical palm trees, monkeys and orchids. We exchanged gifts among people bronzing themselves in swimsuits.

I don't think I could have gotten further away from my childhood's white Christmas.

It's been already 17 years since I first came here to Ecuador and 17 years since my first Ecuadorian Christmas. I must say that it wasn't easy. The first Christmas was filled with awe in the strangeness of my surroundings; everything was "exotic" and "interesting". 

The second Christmas was filled with crazy work to make traditional Finnish Christmas a success story in Ecuador. We baked, cooked and prepared everything for weeks. The result was quite delicious. But it wasn't a Finnish traditional white Christmas and Santa.

I remember standing outside in the sunshine and heat praying for a rainstorm so it would be at least a bit darker and fresher, a bit more like a "real" Christmas.

The third Christmas rolled past without much enthusiasm on my part. It just didn't feel like Christmas, not without the cold and snow, the light among the darkness and Santa visiting the "good" children.

It took quite some time for me to rediscover Christmas. 

The key was when I started to ask what the first Christmas must have been like. Israel isn't known for its cold winters and huge amount of snow. And when we consider that Christ was actually born during springtime, there really should have not been any snow around.

What there were was Mary, Josef and the pastors, the angels and the wise men.
So, I concentrated my Christmas, not on the snow and Father Christmas but Christ child and His birth.

Nowadays I get occasional bout of homesickness around the Christmas. I like to look at the pictures of snow and remember my childhood. But that is not my Christmas anymore.

In my house Christmas is to celebrate the Savior.
We give gifts, not many and not very expensive either. There is some decoration, usually an angel or two, maybe some Christmas lights. We still have some Finnish traditional Christmas dishes, especially one made of potatoes that I absolutely adore. There definitely is Christmas music and carols. But most of all, there will be the Christmas gospel that we will read together.

My Christmas essentials:

1) My family

2) Finnish Christmas food

3) Handel's The Messiah

3) The Nativity scene 

4) The Christmas gospel

If you enjoyed this article about Essential Christmas maybe you'll also enjoy another one about Essential Christmas Music.

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