Monday, December 25, 2017

Merry Christmas (and Xm Eve) 2017

Merry Christmas, Everyone!
Christmas Eve 2017
I planned to do another advent painting this year. But the days got away, so I left the half-started calendar in Bhutan and brought the paints home. I put some lights behind a metal nativity on the picture rail and call it good. Ready or not, Christmas is here.
Tonight, the fans are whirring overhead. It's 90o and we're in a Christmas Eve service. We light the candles, one from another, row by row. Those standing under the fan shade their flame - sometimes ia draft blows out the candle, which is then relit by a friend nearby.
We've started the day with a trip to the south of the city and a morning Christmas service. It's been lovely to hear the scriptures read over us and to sing the carols. It's a small group, maybe 50, but feels warm and everyone's happy to be together.
We catch a ride back to town with friends, sharing a meal of noodles and meat at a local shopping center. W and I walk around and find palm sugar and white sesame seeds at a health food store and a few things for our Christmas Open House tomorrow. (We have no idea how many people to expect, so might as well cook a lot. Hopefully, everyone will bring some food to share.)

After 4, we're on our way to DrH and Alice's. The house is beautifully decorated with years of Christmas collections.
I'm feeling Christmas-y because of the attention to detail and the beautiful surroundings. The fountain in the courtyard splashes into the fishpond and masks the neighborhood sounds. It's so relaxing.
Alice loves to cook and they've prepared a feast of their family's traditional macaroni beet salad, as well as almond rice, crispy pork, and sauce. We start with a swirl of cream in cilantro tomato soup - and garlic bread. Truly delicious - never mind the homebaked cheese appetizers and Christmas cake. We're stuffed when we leave.

There's another surprise: two beautiful art pieces. What a lovely start to the evening.
We stop by our house to pick up a plate of cookies for a dessert buffet after church. The international church has a candlelight service - which is where the fans are blowing out our little fires. It's so different and memorable. I miss my family, though DrH has covered the ache with her friendship and love.

W and I come home to open the Christmas cards and presents we've saved until tonight. It's quiet and sweet to be together. We call our parents and talk to the grandchildren.

Christmas Day 2017
We're up before 5am. In the southern hemisphere, we're at the longest days of the year. We wake with the light. I lie in bed, planning the menu and the day ahead.

The weather is wonderful: 85F/29C with a light breeze. We don't know how many people are coming over today so as I start cooking, I hope for the best. Will we have 10 guests? 30? In 4 hours, I've made pasta, curried sausage, French toast, and a few more dishes. There are a few minutes to relax and pray for those who will gather.
We talk to some of our family in the morning, but they're 15 hours behind us. They're still working their way through Christmas Eve. How we miss them!
Our friends start arriving about 11 - and soon the house and porch are filling up. About 40 people bring food, White Elephant gifts, and their laughter. We read the Story, sing some carols, and then open our gifts.
We have so much fun opening them and stealing each other's stuff. The neighbors must think we're nuts; we're so loud.
Some of the young people have never been at a Christmas party so they cruise the house and take pictures of our decor. Because it's Indonesia, we take lots of selfies (or rather, W and I are in many others' selfies).
We eat until we're stuffed. There's Indonesian food and Western food ... on real plates instead of paper ones because the day is special. There are lots of desserts including cookies and brownies, which are a favorite here. Josue prays a Christmas blessing over us. Claudia takes lots of pics (thanks!)
And then we relax and unwind. The last guests leave about 5pm. The dog comes off his leash and runs like a crazy thing around the yard, happy to be free.
The helpers toss the garbage, gather the leftovers to take home, and wish us Selamat Hari Natal before going out the gate. They'll have a feast of their own to share with their families tonight.

Read more:
*The Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name. Luke 1:49

*Thus says the Lord, “I myself have spoken to you persistently, and you have not obeyed me.”  Jeremiah 35:14
*Long ago God spoke to our ancestors in many and various ways by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by a Son. Hebrews 1:1-2
Moravian Prayer: O God, you have caused this holy night to shine with the brightness of the true Light: Grant that we, who have known the mystery of that Light on earth, may also enjoy him perfectly in heaven. Amen.

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