We were delighted to again celebrate Christmas Around the World this year. On Christmas Eve Paul and I were joined by three of our children – we enjoyed our annual church service with Scripture, prayer, carols, candlelight, and refreshments. Afterwards we started on our first country, South Korea by preparing warm Hotteok pancakes filled with sesame seeds, brown sugar, and cinnamon. Delicious! Our Christmas movie of choice this year was Home Alone.
On Christmas morning, the five of us continued with three more countries – for New Zealand we sang “Te Harinui” and “The 12 Days of Kiwi Christmas“). For Belgium we played a very beloved family game, “Pass the Parcel”). Every layer in the parcel contains a sweet except the first layer which holds a baby Jesus. Whoever opens that layer becomes King or Queen for the day. Queen Cascade dispensed wisdom throughout the day whenever she rang her bell, selecting a name and a wisdom card at random from prepared piles. For Spain we revived a tradition we have done with variations in years past, “Urn of Fate” – in each round, two names were selected from the urn, and each one recounts a memory from the past year with the other, in addition to a hope for the other for the coming year.
As we prepared to read traditions from Ghana, five more guests arrived! So we had 10 drummers in our drum circle with lots of creative rhythms on our “drums” (kitty litter plastic buckets we saved from last year when our kittens were kept indoors).
Our final four guests joined us and the whole group gathered for group photos outside on the wonderfully warm and sunny day.
Christmas dinner began as usual by reading the Christmas story from the Bible (Luke 2:1-20) and praying. We enjoyed a meal of Aussie meat pies / sausage rolls / vegetarian pasties (delivered to our door from the Australian Bakery Cafe), brown rice and quinoa pilaf, fresh fruit platter, fresh vegetables with hummus, and sparkling juices / cider. During the meal we read traditions from England and did two things – collected donations for our church fundraiser to provide Water for Zambia, and opened Christmas crackers (included paper hats, jokes, trivia, snowman toys, toy soldier ornaments, musical whistles – we formed an 8 member whistle choir that Cascade directed in playing several familiar tunes).
After our meal, we read traditions from Germany, reciting Christmas poems (serious and silly) to one another. Then we read traditions from China and had our second juggling contest, drawing names to form three teams to create a 60 second routine and scoring one another’s teams. C3PO (hacky sacks) took first place, Rings of Fire (rings) came second, and The Joyful Jugglers (clubs) came third. Very entertaining and lots of fun!
Desserts and coffee were then served while we watched our annual Christmas video (which I make using photos from this past year and every year ending with the same digit). So many wonderful memories were stirred – we each have so much for which to be thankful!
Our ninth country was Colombia – we sang Christmas carols by candlelight (accompanied by Karis on the keyboard). Then Jonathan and Sharon dressed up and distributed Christmas stockings and gifts to each one. Our final country was Argentina (by now it was approaching sunset, so we set off fireworks on the street).
It was a very joy-filled day celebrating Jesus and sharing love and generosity with one another. Christmas is our favorite holiday, and we are so grateful to be able to share it with loved ones and new friends (we very much missed Peter & Alex) – Aayushi, Aditi, Cascade, Emre, Esther, Harold, Hildegard, Jonathan, Karen, Karis, Michael, Paul, Pragna, Sharon