For a moment in Oman, as our trip neared to an end, I thought we were going back to Ventura after our travels. When I quickly remembered it was Bahrain we were returning to, my heart fell briefly. We were not going back to familiarity, to a place that felt like home yet. Being the Christmas season, I miss being close to family and celebrating annual traditions together – decorating gingerbread houses and the reading of Santa Mouse by Papa whilst eating fresh tamales.
However, we were completely enchanted with the gift we gave ourselves of a trip to Oman and the adventures we had there. We also give thanks for the sweet, uninterrupted time we had together, our family of four, and also for the absence of the commercialism and materialism that can pervade the Christmas season. There are hints of Christmas here and there, enough to bring light to the kids’ eyes, and with its minimalism, we are drawn even more so to the Reason we celebrate Christmas to begin with.
So with one borrowed, little Christmas tree a little taller than Cayden, and Christmas music playing in our new house, we look forward to Christmas in Bahrain. I reflect on the fact that life is unpredictable; however much we create – or attempt to create- predictability in our lives, we really don’t know what lies ahead, what tomorrow will bring. How could we have known three months ago, when school was in full swing, Cayden starting Kindergarten and Anya preschool, when friendships and community were sweet and satisfying, that we would find ourselves across the seas in the land of my childhood? How could we have prepared for such a time as this? Indeed, we can never be fully prepared for tomorrow, which is why Christmas brings a definite and amplified measure of comfort. For me, my faith is built on the certainty of the One who came to love and adore, and that love has carried me through this intense time of transition.
We spent Christmas Eve with our new friends who themselves spent the last three years in China. Tomorrow we will wake up at the crack of dawn, I’m sure, as anyone with kids can attest to, and enjoy the delight of Cayden and Anya. My dad (a.k.a. Santa Jiddou) will come for dinner.
May your Christmas, wherever you are, be beautiful.
(And for those who have asked, our household goods have yet to arrive – they are now telling us the end of December, two months after the predicted delivery. As much as I await its arrival, we have learned we do not need much, not half as much as we think we do. I am fairly certain as boxes are opened I will think to myself, “And why did I pack this??”)