Christmas in Africa just isn't the same as Christmas in New York. My friend Natalie concurs that Christmas in Florida just isn't the same as Christmas in Michigan.
The fact that it's summertime here in Africa doesn't help much, but really I just long for my family and my homegrown traditions. Thankfully I have a wonderful husband who has grown to enjoy American Christmases; together we make celebrating in Africa fun. We put up a tree and decorate it with all our fun ornaments (Although I said I never would, we bought an artificial tree last year... There's no such thing as "Christmas Tree Lots" here, and we'd already chopped down all the suitable ones on our property for previous Christmases!); we hang our stockings on our mantle (Niel affectionately calls his stocking his "Christmas sock"); and we set snowmen up throughout the house (Ironic, though it may, be with 90-degree weather outside!).
The year our friends Dave and Amy celebrated Christmas with us in Africa (they were working with us in the ministry), Amy introduced us to her family tradition of baking Christmas cookies and gathering as a family to decorate them. We've been doing it ever since! We were a little late with it this year, but I finally baked the cookies on Christmas Eve; then on Christmas Day Niel, Marie (his mom), and I decorated them. We laughed at Niel's funny creations (gingerbread man with a Speedo?!), but we missed having my family around to help - my Dad is always a hoot when it comes to decorating the cookies!
The weather was on my side on Christmas. It was cold and foggy the entire day; we even made a fire in the fireplace in the evening! Now for summertime, that was very odd. But I didn't mind a bit. It helped it feel a bit more Christmassy than usual.
We had a good Christmas. It was quiet and relaxed, which was what we needed. We also got to talk to my family -- both the Brothers Grimm made it home this year, which was special for my mom.
We still have Christmas gifts on the way -- the packages my mom sent haven't arrived yet. The day they arrive, it will really feel like Christmas! There's nothing like getting some love and goodness from home!