Thursday, November 13, 2014

Homes for the Holidays

I hesitate to even post this at the risk of offending or hurting feelings. I don't mean that in the least. I'm thankful for the amazing people who have surrounded me near and far, who have enabled me to do what I've been called to do and who love me no matter what. But truth be told, the last several months of "adjusting back" haven't been easy ones. And so, in a moment of potentially awkward transparency, here's a bit of what I've been learning.

I celebrated an ├╝ber-early Thanksgiving with my extended family this past weekend, which was a huge blessing. It’s been ages since I got to join them for food-family-fun and I was glad I got to finally be there with everyone again. But as I drove to Kalamazoo and then Indiana to be with family for the weekend, I was also quite surprised to realize another set of emotions coming out – homesickness. 

Last Thanksgiving, 2013
Remember that verse about God providing family? Well, he does a really good of following through on His promises… go figure, I know. And I’m really thankful for that. But I’m also realizing I’ve established a “new normal” for holidays the past several years which looked a whole lot different than what happens here in America. Eating Thanksgiving with Australians, Dutch, Germans, Tanzanians and others over the years at tables outside with orange-dyed sweet potatoes and homemade marshmallows – this was normal. And as odd as it was sometimes, as much as I missed “home” during those times and had a love/hate relationship with the pictures my parents texted me from family gatherings… our team bonded close over these shared overseas times. We became family.

Homemade Marshmallow Making Adventures (2012)
It took a lot of perseverance (probably because the gelatin we had was very much expired)
but we were SOOO excited when it finally worked!
If I was just in the States for a short time, I’d be eating this time up. But as I know I’ll be here for a good awhile, and I know I’m not headed back to the “other” family God has generously provided… and as I know things there will go on without me (as they should) and I get to be here… sometimes I’m surprised at the amount of emotion and “missing-ness” I feel for the people in Musoma. 

I’m realizing that with all the changes, with all the “new normals” I’ve experienced and become used to, that with each event there are things I get to incorporate from my life overseas and my experiences there with my new, reestablishing life here in the States. The things that worked here, didn’t work there – so adjustments needed to be made.

Christmas 2012 and 2013

I know now how to celebrate Christmas when it doesn't feel like it. I know how to bond together with people and make it work, make it super-special, because that's the only way it will happen. I know how to go caroling with santa hats and scarves in 80 degree weather with a chance of lake fly flurries, and how to make sure all the singles have a family to spend Christmas morning with. Friday night advents with my whole community, culminating in a Christmas movie, are my new norm.

But now that I'm here, I'm surrounded by people busy doing their own things with their own families that have their own traditions, and I'm not sure how I fit in. Not that they don't want me around... but I'm certainly not "needed." I'll be moving house two weeks before Christmas, so even decorating is a bit tricky. And I'm suddenly trying to remember why these long-dreamed-for white flakes falling from the sky are so.insanely.cold. (Apparently my "fond memories of White Christmases" in Musomaland were dreamed in a bit warmer temps?) The most special memories and traditions I've created with others don't seem to have a place, and I'm not even sure what should be special this year. Besides, perhaps, a white Christmas, which will be far away yet again as I head to Florida to celebrate the season with family.

So as I go into this season, I’m thankful for the many homes – and families – God has provided in cities, states, and countries wide around the world. I am grateful for the experiences and cultures I’ve been a part of. But I’m also realizing just how confusing it is to take bits and pieces of cultures and traditions that have taken up residence in my heart, and make them work in a way here that makes sense. Especially when I’ve not been able to physically bring friends or family members on the journey with me there and back. And so I remember that it is an honor and privilege to cling to Jesus even more, as He has been with me all along the way and understands it all through the bigger picture… and promises peace for my transient soul.

1 comment:

  1. In the name of Allah,the Most Compassionate the Most Merciful.

    Say, "O People of the Scripture, come to a word that is equitable between us and you - that we will not worship except Allah and not associate anything with Him and not take one another as lords instead of Allah." But if they turn away, then say, "Bear witness that we are Muslims [submitting to Him]."
    O People of the Scripture, why do you argue about Abraham while the Torah and the Gospel were not revealed until after him? Then will you not reason?
    Here you are - those who have argued about that of which you have [some] knowledge, but why do you argue about that of which you have no knowledge? And Allah knows, while you know not.
    Abraham was neither a Jew nor a Christian, but he was one inclining toward truth, a Muslim [submitting to Allah]. And he was not of the polytheists.
    Indeed, the most worthy of Abraham among the people are those who followed him [in submission to Allah] and this prophet, and those who believe [in his message]. And Allah is the ally of the believers.
    A faction of the people of the Scripture wish they could mislead you. But they do not mislead except themselves, and they perceive [it] not.
    O People of the Scripture, why do you disbelieve in the verses of Allah while you witness [to their truth]?

    Holy Quran 3:64-70