Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
Okay, we’ve already said that but were in the mood to say it again!
Many have wondered how our first Christmas away from loved ones went…
Well, it went surprisingly well!
We managed to get a christmas tree… which we ordered entirely in German… and hoped that what would arrive would be a tree. It was!
We stayed close to our Kandern home, taking little day trips here and there to join in the Christmas festivities around. We attended an open house in Basel in our pastor’s home. We went to a Christmas light festival, a Christmas market, and a our own little town’s celebrations.
For Christmas Eve, we attended our church’s Christmas Eve service. It was a beautiful night of musical praise, reflection, and lit candles. We left with the fresh reminder that Jesus is our light… and we are his conduits, shining into the dark places of our world.
We also made and decorated sugar cookies as a family… then walked around and gifted them to our neighbors. This was so much fun! We realized how hard it is to “out give” our German neighbors. At one house, we gave cookies, and left with a homemade cake! Our neighbors are a blessing and we are so excited to get to keep them when we move across the street this summer.
On Christmas morning, our “adopted” grandparents joined us. Their kids are grown and out of the country and they wanted to be with us… and us with them! They came over and shared Christmas breakfast with us, as well as all of the gift opening. We later joined them at their house for a Christmas dinner. They were so thoughtful… complete with activities for the kids, pez-dispenser table pieces, and scrumptious food. We made green bean casserole (from scratch). They helped make Christmas feel a little more “full” and warm. Their generosity inspires us and we hope to be as much a beacon to the “lonely” when our turn comes (or even now as opportunities arise).
One highlight just before Christmas break was Jeremy’s class Christmas party. Marcy, Corban, and Hannah were able to attend because of the van we’d recently purchased! It was great fun to join his students in preparing for Christmas break while celebrating and enjoying one another. There were lots of yummy treats, fun games, and a Christmas craft (decorating an orange for the Christmas tree) as well as a White Elephant Gift exchange for the kids. The party was put on by a couple of the mother’s of Jeremy’s students… such a blessing for him and them!
For New Year’s Eve we headed up to Sonne, one of the high school dorms. The students had all gone to be with their parents during the Christmas break, so only the dorm parents and R.A.’s were occupying the large space. We joined a small crowd of friends for treats, games, and fireworks.
It should be noted that individuals were hosting their own firework shows all over every village. Just before midnight the town bells began to ring… and ring and ring and ring. We never tire of their beautiful sound. Talk about “ringing in the new year!” We certainly did! Then began the show of fireworks… over half an hour of showers of sparkling embers shooting into the sky from every direction… it’s actually amazing anyone leaves New Year’s Eve intact. But they do! We returned to a very hazy Kandern. But, as is the German custom, by the next morning there was hardly any sign of the late night festivities.
We spent New Year’s day with some friends, playing games, eating more yummy things, and enjoying the company of one another. It was a relaxing and fun way of welcoming 2013.
So how were our holidays? It’s never easy to be far from your loved ones. Much of us longs to be in their presence, sharing in the things we might “normally” be doing. The other part of us delights in the new opportunities, new traditions, new friends. In the end, we are so thankful that God is constant… that He comes along, our ultimate loved-one, orchestrating each moment as we hand it over to Him. He is the delight of our hearts. And thought the cost is big… we know His purposes are worth it and we are excited to be on this adventure with Him. Thank you each, again, for joining us on this journey with Jesus!