on tradition. . .
Most of the time, Kijabe is home. . . friends, our colleagues, our work, our passion. But our actual family is still not here. . and what we are not present for in the US becomes crystallized during holiday moments when we can’t bake cookies with cousins – or go the candlelight services and sing Silent Night with sisters- or share one of five different pies on Thanksgiving.
So during this season, I find myself endlessly baking, planning, decorating, and trying to bring a little bit of that part of our American family to our home in Kenya.
When David spent his first Christmas in the McLain house, I sat him down before the week to explain the traditions. . . Church, Christmas pajamas, White Christmas the movie, sugar cookies and white pretzels, church again, orange juice and cinnamon rolls, the manger scene, individual present opening, church again. . .so many little things that were my safest place as I grew up. They were markers in time – where we changed, but the traditions didn’t.
Christmas looks different for everyone, but for us it is sewing and baking, singing and laughter, sharing of family history and tradition.
It is hiding handmade presents under the tree and hanging paper snowflakes from the banisters.
It is Mary riding an elephant as she rides to Bethlehem because the cadre of kids at our table think that would have been more comfortable.
It is 30 kids making 100 salt dough ornaments in our kitchen.
It is a Norwegian Christmas eve dinner borrowed from the Myhre’s and gingerbread house decorating borrowed from the South Sudan team.
It is our interns in the house on boxing day (December 26) eating sugar cookies and chocolate molded into snowflakes while they teach me to make masala chai.
It is a way of building bridges from past to present, of showing my girls glimpses of my childhood, of building new stories and narratives here, and of celebrating the purest coming of Peace to Earth.