It’s never easy being away from home during Christmas. My in-laws very graciously let me bawl my eyes out with no judgement the first time I spent the holiday with them in the Mid-West–my first Christmas outside of Texas. And bawl I did.
But being countries, rather than states, away can feel even stranger. I’m happy to report that Christmas is more of a thing in Suriname than it was in China. It’s more organically part of the culture, rather than a recent, Western addition. (China appears to have adopted Christmas in a mode similar to the way it’s adopted Starbucks). But no matter where you are, Christmas overseas has its side-effects, if you will. In the photos, you’ll notice the scrawny nature of our Christmas “tree.” (I’ve taken to calling it our Christmas shrub.) This sad little tannenbaum is a bi-product of my forgetting to order a tree from the States until it was too late, and there being no real ones locally available in Suriname. Similarly, I think my Indiana-born husband is having a tough time squaring 85°F with its being Christmas. (This is pretty typical for me, being a Gulf-Coast Texan.) There are lights in the house, eggnog in the fridge, presents and stockings wrapped up brightly… so why is he wearing shorts instead of sweaters?
Still, we’ve made a little noel oasis here. Our Christmas decorations are up. We’ve toured the local Christmas lights. We even received a bonus gift on December 23 in the arrival of our final shipment: our books from our Washington, D.C. storage unit. This means the two halves of our book collection are finally reunited! We’ve even put them all away, filling up all five bookcases, with the exception of one empty shelf. (For some reason, Husband rolled his eyes when my reaction to this open space was to clap my hands and cry “Room to grow!” Perhaps he’s wincing over the extra weight another shelf of books will add to our pack-out?)
We’re even so blessed as to be in the Foreign Service at a time when literally a click of a button will put us in face-to-face contact with our families. Even a few decades ago, we would’ve been mailing off Christmas cards months in advance, crossing our fingers they’d make it across the ocean in a timely manner. Instead, we’ll be sharing Christmas wishes à la Skype tomorrow, God willing.
All in all, it’s shaping up to be a pretty good first Christmas in Suriname.
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