I told Billy that whatever we did on Christmas Day, I wanted it to be different and distracting. After being in Thailand only 2 months – and currently in a different city than where we live – it would be impossible to have this day look anything like our “normal” Christmas.
Normal Christmas, no matter which side we are with, is always full of family chaos. It’s usually the good kind of chaos, but if we are talking NORMAL, then lets just be honest. We’ve had our bad chaos too – most of which we can laugh openly about now. Again, ALL sides of our family have their epic stories.
This is what I love most about the big crazy group of people we call ‘Ours.’ We don’t “hide our crazy and start acting like a lady” like the mom in Miranda Lambert’s song instructs. Our crazy hangs out — sometimes too much! We don’t always balance out grace and forgiveness and gentleness… and there are real hurts in the mix too. There are memories of dark holidays and painful sadness. There are holidays we’d all like cut from our memories. That’s not my favorite part – my favorite thing is that in the jumbled chaos, there is love and laughter — and always an open space at the table for one more.
Holiday dinners are often maxed out with friends from just about any place. In town with no family, COME. Having a rough season of life (for any reason), COME. Willing to enter our chaos, COME. Looking for new holiday entertainment, COME. Warnings are given. Beware. It’s not always pretty. Crazy is how we do life. Hopefully with a side of joy and lightheartedness too!
However, THIS YEAR, Normal Christmas was impossible. I look forward to next year when we might be a bit more settled and able to do Christmas more like our Christmas Past. Christmas Present was a bit too quiet and calm. So we took to the city to take the boys to see a movie and poke around one of the fancy malls. It did not disappoint: giant Christmas decorations, a random encounter with TWO Santa Clauses, LOTS of popcorn, a cute dinosaur movie and a special moment that will become our NEW Christmas Normal.
On Christmas Eve, I told Billy I could feel a meltdown coming on. I was holding together but Christmas Day was going to push me over the emotional edge. He (in his usual sensitivity!) asked how he could help make the day better. I think God plopped this answer in my heart almost immediately:
I want to stand somewhere truly Buddhist. I want to look Buddhism straight in the face and remember why today is worth it… why my homesickness and sadness and quietness are WORTH IT ALL. I want to tell Satan he’s not winning my day. I want to talk to my kids about Baby Jesus’ birth in the middle of a city filled with people who don’t know him. I want to ask God to move in powerful ways to bring his glory and his peace to these people.
So we did.
Joy to the World the Lord has come!
Let earth receive her King;
Let every heart prepare Him room…
Merry Christmas from Thailand!
[two more just for fun: We have really enjoyed the flashy, colorful holiday decorations that each mall has. They are all designed to be fun spots for pictures. Can’t beat Finn’s “pose” in Santa’s chair. HA! In his defense, there are at least 10 people watching him/taking his picture behind me. 🙂 ]