Jody and I have slowly been building our family holiday traditions over the 7+ years of our marriage. This is our first Christmas to be out of Texas and here we are in Haiti. I am thankful that the traditions that matter most to us don’t rely on specific places and stereotypical American holidays. We have traditions that travel.
This was a simple Christmas. Minimal decorations. Christmas shopping done in a quick 30 minute sprint around a “dollar store” in Haiti. No fancy meals…but it was a sweet Christmas.
Our Christmas begins on December 1st when we start our advent chain. In years past, I haven’t found any great inspirations online so I have always just created my own. Each day has a “clue” to the true meaning of Christmas and a scripture reference. We have always enjoyed this BUT this year we made an advent chain that references the Jesus Storybook Bible. I am thrilled to have found this! It takes stories from the Old Testament and weaves Jesus into all of them! I enjoyed reading the story from our advent chain every night before bed (maybe more than the boys!).
We decorated a tiny Christmas tree we brought with us (we used it in the boys rooms back in the States!) and set out the manger scene that Jody and I bought our first Christmas together. We also brought candles for our advent wreath. Every Sunday night during December Jody leads us in lighting a advent candle and redirecting our hearts back to why we are celebrating Christmas.
Before Christmas day we traveled from Leogane to the Petionville area of Haiti. It is up in the mountains and we were blessed to be able to house sit for some new friends of ours while they were out of the country. We packed up the remained of our advent chain, our stockings and advent wreath and enjoyed a cooler Christmas than we would have in Leogane. On our way up we stopped and bought 3 gifts for each boy at a store called Handal (think beefed up dollar store with beefed up prices…it is basically imported junk!) =)
We also stopped and went grocery shopping for quick, easy meals that didn’t include rice and beans. This is fun because it feels like a “normal” grocery store…UNTIL you get to the register and realize that all that imported food is double what we would pay in The States. Thanks Joel Trimble for taking us shopping! From this picture, you wouldn’t guess we were in the world’s poorest nation. Basically only foreigners and wealthy Haitians shop here.
We buy each boy 3 gifts since Jesus himself was given 3 gifts. It helps to keep things from getting crazy (since I personally really love buying Christmas presents!) and it helps to bring us back to why we are celebrating in the first place.
We enjoyed chocolate in our stockings, too! Buying Jody Reese’s candy is a tradition too, I guess! I don’t think he has had a Christmas without Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. Luckily, I was able to buy some at the big American-ish supermarket.
The boys were excited for daddy to see the pen holders they made for his desk at the Acts of Mercy offices here in Haiti. This was the first Christmas none of the boys actually told Jody what he was getting before Christmas day. =)
We missed going to Antioch Community Church for a Christmas Eve service this year and we didn’t get to eat Chinese food for dinner on the night before Christmas BUT we did still have our traditional birthday party for Jesus. We baked a cake and it was the ugliest cake ever…but it tasted good and with a house full of boys that is all the matters!
Happy Birthday, Jesus! We are so glad you came…we are lost without you.
We also made “ginger bread” houses out of graham crackers and icing. This was lots of fun with LOTS of finger licking. Almost every picture I took has Josiah with his fingers either going in or going out of his mouth! =) Lucas preferred wiping his fingers on his shirt. =)
The finished products:
We hope you all had a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! We missed celebrating with you but are thankful that God has placed our family in Haiti for this time. Thanks for praying for us! Thanks to the Trimble’s for letting us use their home during the holidays. We are blessed.