When I woke up this morning, feet slapping quietly on the cold tiles, heading for the kitchen and waiting for the drip drip to reach the 4 cup line so I could sneak the pot out for a quick pour, I noticed it was dense with fog outside. So dense you could barely see the next building over. And it was strangely warm, nearly 60 degrees, on December 1st. It was just another moment, in what can sometimes feel like an endless string of moments, where China feels like the furthest place from Christmas you could be.
Sometimes the removal of all the familiar ambiance and traditions and weather can make me feel removed too. On some days, this feeling removed and barren is just hard. But on some days, and there are more and more of them, this removal comes as a good thing. Stripped of all the outward adornments that I love, it's easier to love the source of all these festivities, which for us, is primarily about the Person we are celebrating, and not the Hallmark card around it. But don't get me wrong, I like the look and feel of the Hallmark card too.
So even though it is hard to watch friends board a plane for the States every December, and even though I wish I could fill my house with the scent of fresh evergreens, or buy brown paper and raffia to wrap gifts in, in many ways I am grateful to be here. Things are simpler, and it's not as hard to say no to the rat race (because there isn't one) that surrounds the Holiday season.
Without all that pressure, it can sometimes seem like you have to create Christmas out of nothing around here. But even this, I don't mind really. It's like a blank slate that you can fill with whatever seems most special, or appropriate, or purposeful to you. So this year, just a few things to help us celebrate the wonder and joy of Advent (which means "coming"), and the main event of it all-- Immanuel (who even comes to China).
Nativities to look at, nativities to play.
Nightly Advent lighting
Baking, of course.
Preparing gifts, making gifts.
And last but not least, just a little fun for me... joining in on the December Photo Project, which is posting one (at least) picture a day for each day in the month of December. You can join too!