When Christmas Ain’t Cool

by Laura on December 21, 2010

I’m used to Eggnog Lattes and crackling fires and Colorado-chill,

but this year, I have instant coffee over ice and flip-flops and hot-enough-to-swim weather.

I’m used to driving the neighborhoods to look at lights on houses with pajama-clad kids in the backseat,

but tonight I sat in a 15-passenger van beside my son in his Taekwondo uniform and saw Christmas lights decorating girly-bars.

I’ve tasted the holidays with extended family and egg casserole for brunch and cousins-playing and wild games for the treasured Pink Flamingo,

but this year, my in-laws will board a plane back to America, and we’ll taste our first Christmas morning, with the quiet of only our small-five,

and a Skype-date with Home.

And to say that this Christmas feels like any I’ve ever known before would be an ignorantly-optimistic statement. But like so many things of this first year overseas, I am learning that I can choose gratitude for the abundance in my hands, or I can complain about the things that are just beyond my reach.

And when my gaze is fixed on the Have-Not more than the Have,

well, dangit, the Merry of Christmas slinks out the back door, and The Grinch takes residence in the living room right in front of that tacky, plastic tree.

How is THIS Christmas different from others you’ve had in years past?  What are the “disappointments” about the season?

Are you struggling?

The above is a picture of my sisters and I, jumping on our trampoline in Colorado last year. Gosh, I love those girls.

  • Amy

    This Christmas we will be without ALL my family together. We got so spoiled last year by having ALL 2 parents, 1 grandparent, 4 sibilings, 3 in-laws, 4 children (under 6 years old), and 1 cat under 1 roof for a glorious 3 days. We filled it with dance competitions, presents, laughs, bb gun contests, child meltdowns, fires on the back deck, runs that turn into walks b/c we can’t talk if we run (yeah that was definitely the reason), and more laughs. This year will be a little quieter and that is different and its OK. It makes you cherish and LOVE those times when you are all together. It makes you realize how special your family is and how it wouldn’t be complete without EVERYONE in it.

    You are part of my puzzle piece of life, LL. and I can’t complete my puzzle until you are close enough to touch. We will miss you like crazy this year. Start practicing your dance moves for when we see each other again.

    Love you and we’ll talk on Christmas!
    Amy

    • http://www.lauraleighparker.com Laura

      Oh, Sis . . .

      Thank you. I relived all those memories in that comment. Thank you . .

      For writing, for missing us, for being there, for
      rockin’ our rendition of “punch dancing” to Battlefield.

      I reckon our defense of the Title will have to wait till, maybe, next year?

      Love you, and AM thankful that at least Skype is . . . something . . .

      “see” you guys in a few . . .

      you are amazing.

      L

      • http://www.lauraleighparker.com Laura

        Can I also add, Amy, that Cade talked today about when he got to “shoot the bb gun” on the back porch with PawPaw and Uncle Will and Crazy Uncle Steven. Yup, HIS WORDS . . . and we weren’t even talking about it. He just remembered . . .

        I love it.

        • Amy

          CRAZY Uncle Steven…that sounds about right. It would have been even funnier if he called him Crazy Aunt Steven.

  • Michelle

    Big tears just fell down my face… I spent almost all my childhood christmases with the five of us. We all longed for extended family to fill our home but they were in another country all together.we werent missionaries by any stretch but on a different path then our family. Holidays were quiet but sweet.praying He will fill your heart and longings for a fuller day. I love you!

  • http://jbeane6.wordpress.com jan

    The King of Kings and Lord of Lords will be there in your midst! Celebrate!!!!
    jan recently posted..Winter

  • http://kendalprivette.blogspot.com/ kendal

    this christmas is different because grief has entered the equation. but….i finally felt the joy and hope of the season yesterday. we braved the one-year anniversary of my nephew’s death on sunday. and now i feel ready to worship. i know i’m not the perfect christian because i couldn’t hold grief and worship at the same time. but i’ve traded the sorrows now. ah….
    kendal recently posted..four smiles

  • http://hikingtowardhome.blogspot.com/ Sharon

    I had such a hard time with HOT Christmases. On Christmas we would close all the windows and crank the A/C up to high and pray the house would cool down. After the morning traditions were over, we would go to McDonalds for lunch/dinner. It sounds like an insane tradition here in the states but it was good for us overseas.
    This year… I am still not feeling settled in this house and so the only Christmas decoration that has been unpacked and put up is the tree.
    The disappointment and struggle is that I don’t like feeling this empty…. maybe it is a reverse culture shock issue…. so many I miss are sitting in hovels with dirt floors and bamboo walls… and. have. nothing. Therefore, I haven’t been so on fire to go out and buy…
    I am thankful for Christmas and that this “holy-tide of Christmas time doth bring redeeming Grace”… I received Christ on Christmas Eve 1991… so it is my ‘birthday’ as well… thankful for that Gift.
    Hugs to you this Christmas!!
    Sharon recently posted..And THE LIST Grows Longer

    • http://www.lauraleighparker.com Laura

      I like the Mcdonalds on Christmas– it’s one of our favorite places to eat here, too! ha ha.

      Sounds like you continue to be in a strange place of transition, Sharon . . . glad you are practicing gratitude, anyway.

      Merry Christmas to ya’ll, too.

      • http://hikingtowardhome.blogspot.com/ Sharon

        None of us wanted to make the house hot with all that cooking a big dinner would require. :-D
        Sharon recently posted..And THE LIST Grows Longer

  • http://eragan@charter.net Brenda

    Dear Laura,

    Missing you and your sweet family this year makes the hymn chorus,’When we all get to Heaven, what a day of rejoicing that will be, When we all see Jesus, we’ll sing and shout the victory,’ all the more poignant. Grandma won’t be with us either because she has joined the throngs rejoicing for love of their Savior. I miss her and her devotion to our family. I miss you and the energy and love you and your family bring to our lives. We will celebrate His birth this year with empty places, but with the hope that Jesus brings. Because one day, we will all be together, never to be separated again!
    I thank the Lord for SKYPE. See you on Christmas Day. What birthday cake are you making for Jesus? Love, MOM

    • http://www.lauraleighparker.com Laura

      Mom. You always make me cry.

      Miss You and HER, too.

      • Amy

        Ditto, Laura. Thanks, Mom. :-)

  • http://www.howcantheyhear.org Cody Whittaker

    I appreciate your honest posts about all that you are encountering while serving the Lord overseas. It seems like the Lord is really using your writing to touch and influence others in a great way. Its awesome to hear stories of other missionaries whom God is using all over the world to make His glory known. You and your family are certainly being used by Him to play a redemptive role in many young girls lives. May He be glorified through it all!!! Merry Christmas!!!

    P.S. May I add your link to our own web site?

  • http://www.lauraleighparker.com Laura

    Thanks, Cody, for the encouragement . . . and absolutely feel free to add my link, if you think it could encourage others.

    You know, as long as you’re not selling drugs or anything.

    ha ha. Obviously, just joking.

    Merry Christmas! Thanks again!

  • http://www.lauradietrick.com Laura Tovar Dietrick

    This will be the first Christmas without my mother, who passed away in April. The realization that we (my husband and I) are now the ones of the “older” generation is sometimes hard to grasp. With each passing year, the list of those we have known and loved that are now gone, grows. Accepting this and remembering holidays past is always a challenge. Without faith, hope and love, we would be lost.
    Merry Christmas to you and to all of your family. I can fully understand missing a Colorado Christmas when it is flip-flop weather!
    Laura Tovar Dietrick recently posted..Winter Bouquet Oil Painting

    • http://www.lauraleighparker.com Laura

      Laura,

      How hard. It is my own mom’s first Christmas without her mom, too, so I can relate to you a little. The passing of time and generations and legacy is an strange thing, isn’t it? The wanting to grasp-back to the past, but the needing to move into the future with hope and purpose and a heart for the younger generation?

      I hope this season will be sweet with remembrance of your mom . . .

      Merry Christmas to Colorado . . .

  • http://www.freeagentmommy.com Teri Miller

    Oh Laura, even here in the snowy mountains of CO (yes, despite the mild winter so far, we have plenty of snow at our place up on Rampart Range), we find things to grinch about, in our discontented opulence. Ugh.
    Ever trying to simplify, to remember that HE is our gift…to speak gratitude instead of wish-lists…to truly give, without so many gifts!
    Is a work in progress…

    http://freeagentmommy.typepad.com/blog/2010/12/more-giving-fewer-gifts.html
    Teri Miller recently posted..More Giving Fewer Gifts

    • http://www.lauraleighparker.com Laura

      Can I say I LOVE the title of your listed post– “more giving, fewer gifts”? Am going to go check it out right now . . .

      Merry Christmas to you and yours, Teri,

      Love, Laura

  • http://transplantingme.com monica

    laura, our first christmas here was one of our best and they’ve continued to be a special time for our family. they are definitely different than what we knew in the states, much more low key. the past two years we’ve done christmas eve dinner at bake and bite, much cheaper than the hotel buffets, but still most of the food we recognize from home. christmas day we tend to stay in our pjs all day.
    we were wisely advised early on to have no or at least low expectations and that’s advice has served us very well.

    hope you have a great new year!!
    monica recently posted..family vacay – day 1

    • http://www.lauraleighparker.com Laura

      Oh, Monica, I love this advice, too– to lower expectations. Girl, I am taking that and running with it.

      So fun to hear your positive stories about the holidays, too. We actually just got back from one of our best-EVER New Year’s Eve as a family, so I am learning, too, that things over here can be pretty special, after all.

      Love from my side of town to yours, L

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