All over Blogland, people are posting photos of Christmas decorations and writing about their traditions. I have been reading and imagining having those traditions in our family. I have realized through the years since returning to the US and living here that, during those years when we lived in Papua, we didn't have a lot of traditions other than just being together during Christmastime. Of course we had Christmas stockings on Christmas mornings and we six had presents we gave each other and goodies that our families would send us by slow slow mail. Our moms would go to the post office in September and send off the presents for their grandchildren and would hope the boxes wouldn't be lost, stolen, damaged or late. There wasn't much one could purchase in the stores in Manokwari in those years in the early 1980s. And if we were interior in one of the villages, there was nothing at all because there were no stores.
Christmas in Papua, Indonesia was mostly about going to church on Christmas Day and visiting people on December 26th, which was Second Day Christmas (Hari Natal Kedua). But it was wonderful because the older children were home from boarding school and we could all be together. We played Scrabble, Uno, Oh No Ninety-nine, and Hearts. We put together puzzles. We read "The Best Christmas Pageant Ever" every year, and then we would choose a book for The Professor to read to us--a nice long chapter-after-chapter book. We'd read after lunch while everyone in the whole country rested, we'd read after dinnner, The Professor sitting by the kerosene lamp so he could see the print--there was no electricity in the village, and in town at the Bible School, the generators were turned off at 10pm, so if we wanted to finish that last chapter we had to fire up the kerosene pressure lamp.
When we left Papua and moved to Oregon, we each were allotted three suitcases by the airline to carry our worldly possessions. We sold almost everything-- toys, pots, pans, dishes, decorations, and we shipped our boxes of books home by slow slow boat.
There wasn't much in the way of Christmas that made the cut in those suitcases. So we started over making traditions and gathering Christms memories. I'd like to share three of them.
Many years ago, maybe 35 years ago, before my brother married my sister in law, she gave our grandma a hand blown glass Christmas tree. Grandma put it out every year and I remember seeing it on her piano when I was home one Christmas to visit. When Grandma passed away, my mom took it and put it out on her piano. After my mom was gone and my dad moved into a nursing home, I brought the little glass tree to my house and I have put it out every year in Willow's Cottage. It's only 6 or 7 inches high.
Even longer ago, before I met The Professor, my mom made a ceramic candle lamp. You can see that at one point, the flame was broken and reglued. I put it up every year, not because I think it's beautiful, but because my mom made it.
In the 1980s we lived near Chicago for two winters while The Professor was working at the hq of the mission we were working with. We stayed in a 3 bedroom furnished apartment and again had brought only our clothing with us from Papua. I found this nutcracker the first December we lived there, and took it back to Papua, and eventually to Oregon, and now to California.
Wherever we have lived, we've enjoyed an Advent wreath with candles. This year I chose an evergreen and pine cone wreath and white pillar candles.
What are our favorite traditions? Drinking eggnog. Singing Christmas carols and listening to Boney M's Christmas, Handel's Messiah, Nat King Cole's Christmas carols. Sending Christmas cards. Spending time with our family. Putting up Christmas lights and decorating our Christmas tree.
What are your traditions?