We are headed in to the Christmas season in Spain. Christmas continues to be a paradox for us… both wonderful and also a little painful. No matter how long we are out of our home culture, it seems that holidays always hit us hard.
We miss the customs from our church and family back home… the Hanging of the Greens service, the advent candles, the Christmas carols, and the live nativity scenes. In stark contrast, our church in Spain has no Christmas decorations in the sanctuary, no singing of Christmas carols each week, and they do not celebrate the season of advent. There will be no Christmas Eve service, no nativity scene, and no candles for singing Silent Night. Someone a long time ago came in and taught some of the protestant churches that they shouldn’t do anything that the catholic church does, so, sadly, a lot of church traditions became taboo. That is the case in our particular town.
Sometimes, history causes a lot of pain, misunderstanding, and division. Ugh. And no matter how you try to explain or change things, traditions and culture run deep. Truth be told, it's just not ours to change. *sigh* Therefore, we try to carry on with our own customs and culture and do those special things that we love within our own home. We have our tree and our carols and our advent candles. We have our nativity scenes depicting the birth of Jesus.
Yet, a part of me longs for my home church in Texas. I long to be sitting behind the pew of The Evans Family watching little Taylor almost catch everyone on fire with her candle. I long for a sanctuary filled with poinsettias and people singing Christmas hymns. I remember the days of too many Christmas parties and school programs and concerts and decorations. Of Secret Santa and cookie exchanges and crazy Christmas sweaters and driving around to see the lights in town.
Christmas Eve will still be hard for us, because there is something special about standing and singing Silent Night with your church family and holding that candle and being with family and friends. It's a paradox... it will still be Christmas and we will still celebrate the birth of Jesus. It will be beautiful, and also difficult.
Enjoy those traditions and hold them in your heart! Merry Christmas!
In my USA life, I was a teacher in Texas for 15 years. I was also a professional photographer, a soccer mom, a horsewoman, and the neighborhood hospitality queen. I did "Joanna Gaines farmhouse style" before Chip and JoJo were even a thing - we restored an 1884 Victorian farmhouse in small town Texas and did shiplap walls until I thought I'd go crazy. I taught at NASA, scuba dived with astronauts in training, and studied animals at Sea World for educational purposes. I've tried just about everything, because I have an insatiable need to know if I can do it! Never underestimate a Texas girl in cowboy boots!
In 2006, my husband Billy and I became cross-cultural workers (CCWs) with TMS Global. For five years, we served in three rural Quechua Wanca villages in the Andes of Peru. And when I say rural, I mean RURAL - like no potty! I spent my days in Peru learning to live a Quechua lifestyle in a rustic adobe house - cooking Peruvian foods, sewing with Quechua women, raising my chickens and goats and pigs, and planting my gardens. Now I live my life in small town Spain, serving other cross-cultural workers via teaching and training and care, and helping displaced people to navigate their new reality in Europe.
I'm passionate about fostering personal growth, growth in community, and growth in The Kingdom. Walking alongside others and helping them to use their unique design, their gifts and strengths and maximize their abilities to fulfill their God-given purpose - that's what makes my heart sing!