A Southern Hemisphere Christmas

I love Christmas - not just a little, but a lot! It's my favorite time of the year. When I was growing up, it was the time of the year when it seemed like the whole family came together. It was also the time of year when I saw my dad's true, soft, generous heart. He often kept it well hidden the rest of the year. Every year he would vow and declare that he wasn't going to give any gifts. He didn't have enough money, people didn't need more stuff, prices were too high, etc. And every year, at the very last minute, he'd come to me quietly and ask me if I could help him shop - after everything was picked over, sizes were gone, and many shelves were bare! After awhile, I learned to look for "his" gifts early and ask the shop keepers to save them for us until his last minute shopping. He really had a sweet, tender heart, but I think he just didn't know how to show it.

I'm a sentimentalist. I love the decorations, the big tree, outside lights, the old songs, brightly wrapped gifts piled up under the tree, making cookies and candy, cold weather, snow when we were lucky, the fire roaring in the fireplace, hot chocolate, caroling, the stockings - you probably get the picture.

And now I find myself in a warm climate where everyone is barbequing and heading to the beach for the Christmas holiday season! Quite a change! I wondered how I would do. I was afraid I would be terribly homesick.

But I wasn't. The thing that made it very special was being with dear friends - friends we've known for 20-25 years - and new friends we've just met. It was such a treasure to be with them, to do fun things together, to laugh, talk, remember! The celebrating was different, but the richness was there because of the precious relationships. We all decided not to give gifts to each other, but I felt I was given a special gift - their love, welcome, and acceptance as we make our way in our new homeland. We had many invitations from other new friends here, too, who wanted to make sure we wouldn't be alone. I couldn't have been homesick if I'd tried!

I still like all the cold weather Christmas stuff, but I think I'll be okay in my new warm weather home! I'll find new ways to still be a Christmas sentimentalist!!

"A friend loves at all times......" Prov. 17:17