Holiday Spirit

Holiday spirit. It’s a foreign concept for me right now. I suppose back in the US the Thanksgiving and Christmas decorations are out in full force. I imagine the evening news is full of reports about consumer spending sandwiched between desperate ad campaigns by toy and clothing and car companies. I can’t say that I miss that! But I just cannot believe that it’s half-way through November already. A friend said her sons were coming to visit soon, right before Thanksgiving. I said, “Thanksgiving? I thought you said they were coming soon”. I hadn’t looked at a calendar recently! And every day temps are in the high 90s. Sometimes it rains and we add humidity to the heat. I was not expecting this heat. (Yes, I KNOW it’s Africa! But the internet said moderate temperatures for Malawi!!!!)
The ladies in the mission all gathered to plan Thanksgiving dinner and what holiday craft we should tackle for the annual ‘women’s craft week’ in December. It’s a whole new level of culture shock to be sitting around planning menus and quilting projects! I’m responsible for chocolate cream and lemon meringue pies, and a fruit salad. Thank goodness the small turkeys here cost $53 each—I wouldn’t have a clue how to cook one since Grandpa always brought the turkey to our family dinners! Instead, a much better cook than me found 2 piglets to buy in the village, and he’s slow-smoking them for these 2 weeks so we can have something close to ham. If it were up to me, we’d have a new family tradition of honey-glazed chicken and rice for Thanksgiving—because I can cook that!
I am also responsible to bring my sewing machine to craft week so we can properly patch together the table runners we’re going to make. Yes, I have a sewing machine. Yes, it’s still in the original box, tape uncut. I scrapbook, I cross-stitch, but quilting is going to be a new one for me.
Consumerism is slowly coming to Malawi, hitting the small upper-class here in Lilongwe. One store has a few pathetic strands of tinsel up. It makes me laugh. I hear that a very skinny Malawian Santa Claus shows up at that same store in December, handing out candies to the kids. I’ll see if I can get a photo with Santa to post, because that’s got to be a riot!
Yes, holidays in Malawi are going to be different than usual. But then I was thinking, when you sift out all the extraneous things we’ve attached to the holidays, and distill things down to the true purpose, how different will they be? We’ll definitely miss our families this year, and our hearts ache over the differences they will all experience with us gone, and Grandma Mary Pumpelly gone, and Grandpa Harold steadily moving towards his passing. But we’re more aware than ever all that we have to be thankful for. We have better family time than we’ve had in years. We have a great mission family to gather with in corporate thanksgiving and praise. Jesus still came in humility and love. I guess it won’t matter if we have village piglets instead of turkey; if we decide $6 per can of cranberry sauce is worth it or not; if we down ice-cold sweet tea instead of hot mulled cider. Some things are just worth celebrating, however that may look (or taste). You all enjoy your marshmallow-topped sweet potatoes; we’ll say our thank you’s over fresh mango-pineapple-papaya fruit salad, and may God be praised for it all.

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