If you follow my blog, you know about many of my “Australian struggles” like driving on the left, shopping in the grocery store, and learning the slang. Christmas brings about a whole new set of issues for me albeit minor in the big scheme of things. The most wonderful time of the year yet so many of my memories and traditions are an ocean away.
America, as you know, is in the Northern Hemisphere. So, it’s cold. I’m not used to swimming and drinking iced coffee at the beach in December. Buying our kids things like flippers, boardies, and sunglasses isn’t usually on my shopping list. There are no chestnuts roasting on an open fire. No jack frost nipping, or chance of a white Christmas. As a matter of fact, Santa in a red wool suit with big hot black boots seems even more ridiculous when you live on the beach. We have no peppermint, pumpkin spice, or gingerbread lattes. Our house has no fireplace to hang the stockings.
Last week, I tried to make my chocolate goodies that I always make for friends during the holidays. I threw out two batches of messed up fudge and one still sits squishy inside my fridge. No nestle 12 oz bag of chocolate chip morsels was available for purchase here. My good friends who usually take a cute family photo of us weren’t available for hire. I didn’t even make my annual card with a letter. As a matter of fact, I think I got crossed off everyone’s list for mailing me a Christmas card as well.
So far, I have received ONE.
I haven’t bought my kids any fancy Christmas outfits. No frilly dresses and tights for Sydney. We haven’t taken any evening drives to go looking at Christmas lights. If we see a house with a lot of lights, we actually do a double take and sometimes even turn around to get a better look since those are few and far between. Anyway, it’s daylight savings so it’s not dark until after 8pm.
There’s nothing wrong with a little nostalgia and sentimentality for things that “once were” but we can’t stay there. Life is moving too fast and we will miss out on what’s ahead if we linger too long. I’m not prepared to lose something right in front of me all because I want my old kitchen and Christmas fudge back.
I LOVE going to the beach and pool everyday in December. I have “flat white” coffees in little cafes while watching the ocean. I get to try new foods and bake new things while having a good laugh. Plus, I can only “go up” from here with my Christmas treats for neighbours! We live a mere two hours from Greg’s family so will be able to drive there on Christmas day and spend a few days with them. And, God has brought many wonderful neighbours around us; we are forming our own new traditions.
We can’t move forward in life if we are always looking behind us. I look at the families with whom we are connecting already and I see the impact Lift Church will have in their lives and I can’t imagine not being here. My kids are healthy and happy. My marriage is good and God has provided everything we need.
In light of the terrible tragedy last week in Connecticut, my momentary struggles are shaken up into a stark reality where I can only thank God for this wonderful life I live. Missing my Mercedes and shopping at The Domain is ridiculous compared to the unimaginable grief of someone tragically losing a child.
There is only ONE who can mend a broken heart. His name is Jesus. Psalm 34 says, “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted. He rescues those whose spirits are crushed.”
My spirit is far from crushed this Christmas as I reflect on the goodness of God and all of my blessings. For many, holidays are a reminder of a loved one lost, financial stress, and loneliness. The best thing we can do is reach out to those in need and pour our lives into sharing the love of Christ with those whose hearts need mending during the holidays. Let’s all focus on others and what’s good in our lives this Christmas season.
“For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Matthew 20:28 (NLT)