Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Ho ho ho! Christmas is almost here

Candles lit for celebration
Tuesday, December 22
We celebrate at our house with friends a few days before Christmas. But first, we have to make something for our guests to eat.

The day in the kitchen starts shortly after 6. W walks Gypsy so I can keep baking. We ran out of a few ingredients yesterday so I'm finishing up Nanaimo bars this morning.

Ibu Apong loves to bake and cook: she pitches in to make thumbprint cookies. They spread all over the pan: the eggs are bigger than the originals in the recipe - I should add more flour but don't. Too much else to do.

W and another strong fellow haul a bench and an 2.5-meter (almost 8') table down from upstairs and set them in the nook by our front door. K arranges colorful flip-flops for guests' feet just outside.
Before the nook gets torn apart
During: a table full of goodies and guests
By noon, I'm asking, "What shall we eat tonight?" I have a vague idea but guests won't be here until 6 or 7. I rarely plan meals in advance: we keep ingredients on hand for spur-of-the-moment guests as well as for bigger events. Somehow food tastes better when the cook is in synch with the day and the food, doesn't it? So you never know what inspiration could strike. haha

So I prioritize: I think there's time for a nap before looking through the fridge and freezer.

C'mon already ... I wake refreshed. Ibu A has been smiling all day as we bake and wash up. She mops the floor. Usually she cleans up Thursdays after movie nights (held on Wednesday). But because of the helper rotation, her counterpart will be stuck with the dishes tomorrow.

"Merry Christmas to you!" we say, and pray over her and her family before she leaves. She has been a great blessing and God's gift with so much company coming through the house this year! She leaves with her Christmas gifts and bonus, the cookies with dark edges, and lots of food.

By 3, it's time to dive in. W and K come through the kitchen to help throughout the afternoon.

At 6, our first guests arrive. Dr. A, the landlord of our first place, brings his lovely wife (married this year) - they've moved into the house next door. We are delighted to renew acquaintance and include them. The house resounds with conversation and laughter.
The Christmas reading
There's lots to eat - I dash back into the kitchen as the house fills up and fry up some chicken to make sure we don't run out. (Good to have food in the freezer!) Guests bring baking and desserts to share.

We read the Christmas story - and share something we are thankful to God for. W prays over us for the Christmas season.

And then it's time for dessert and the White Elephant gift exchange. It's a new idea to some, but great fun.

Josie and Pauline make us laugh
Rules of the game:
1. Each person chooses a number for their chance to pick a gift or take a gift that someone's opened already.
2. If you choose a gift from someone else, that person gets to go back to the tree for another gift.
3. Gifts may only be rehomed twice: then they are the property of the 3rd person.

We've never seen such a thing: Pak Budi opens one present after another, only to have a "next number" claim it. He's a good sport - we are giggling by the time the rotation is finished. Everyone seems happy with the gifts wrapped and shared.
Another try: will Budi get to keep this one?
When all the guests are gone, the food parceled out and put away, and the dishes are piled at the sink, we relax as a family. It's so nice to have our daughter with us.

We exchange gifts and thank God for this special time to celebrate the birth of Christ together.

Read more:
*When an alien resides with you in your land, you shall not oppress the alien. Leviticus 19:33 ESV

*Praise him for his acts of power; praise him for his surpassing greatness. Psalm 150:2 NIV

*God has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly. Luke 1:52 ESV

*So it was, that while they were there, the days were completed for her to be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. Luke 2:6-7 NKJV

*[The Shepherds and the Angels ] And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. Luke 2:8-11 ESV

*Welcome one another, therefore, just as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God. Romans 15:7 ESV

*Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favors! Luke 2:14 ESV

Moravian Prayer: Infinite One, Creator and Ruler of all, may we glorify you not only in our worship today, but every day, with our whole selves, for that is the purpose of our lives. 

As we prepare our homes and hearts to welcome you again, Divine Savior, may we do as much to offer welcoming aid to the stranger in need, native or immigrant. Remind us of our call to serve you to the glory of God. Amen.

C. S. Lewis, from The Collected Letters of C.S. Lewis, Volume II On worry:
A great many people (not you) do now seem to think that the mere state of being worried is in itself meritorious. I don’t think it is. We must, if it so happens, give our lives for others: but even while we’re doing it, I think we’re meant to enjoy Our Lord and, in Him, our friends, our food, our sleep, our jokes, and the birds’ song and the frosty sunrise.

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