I hope that everyone had a Merry Christmas! It was very strange for me to be here in Tanzania for Christmas instead of at home. First of all, it didn’t really feel like Christmas. The lowest temperature for the week leading up Christmas was in the mid 60s. So it physically didn’t feel like Christmas. Also, I don’t watch a lot of television here, so I didn’t have to sit through all the commercials talking about Christmas and Santa that I would normally get at home. This means the commercialism that surrounds Christmas in the States was missing in my life this year. For that, I am definitely not complaining. But the thing that was missing the most was, of course, my family and friends and all the traditions that go along with the season. I think one of the traditions I missed the most was Christmas Eve service at my home church with the playing of Silent Night while we light candles at the end of the service. That is probably my favorite part of Christmas because it is probably the most peaceful part of the entire Christmas season in my life. Here in Masasi, I actually had a Christmas tree in my house. The student I will be working with put it up to help me feel more at home. It reminds me of the Charlie Brown Christmas tree. :) I love it. Christmas is celebrated here a little differently though. There’s not really an exchange of gifts or anything. The children all get new clothes for Christmas if the family can afford them. Then we go to church. I kind of like having church on Christmas day. I realize this year, more churches back home (mine included) had service on Christmas day. But that’s because Christmas happened to fall on a Sunday. Normally, they only have services on Christmas Eve. Well, the practice here in Tanzania is to have service on the actual day, no matter which day of the week it is. I like that because it is a good reminder of why we celebrate. It’s not about the gifts. It’s about the birth of Christ and joining in celebrating His birth with our fellow believers. So the day wasn’t spent in putting together new toys or installing new computer games, but in fellowshipping with fellow believers and sharing a meal together.
But now I want to hear from you. What Christmas tradition is your favorite? Is there something that your family does and most don’t that you think would make the Christmas season more meaningful? Since I didn’t participate in any of my normal traditions, I want to hear about all of the ones that you celebrate. Tell me all about your Christmas in the comments section. I just want to hear from you. It brightens my day to hear from people back home. So leave me some joy! :)