Wednesday, December 22, 2010

It's Chime for Christmas!

Merry Christmas from Jamie Jo and Women of the Harvest! Wherever you are, whether the weather outside is frightful or downright balmy, may you experience the true joy of the season, and may Jesus be very near and dear to your heart.

For some of you this may be your first Christmas away from extended family, and my heart goes out to you. This week may trigger more homesickness than happiness. That’s only natural. Here’s a (((cyber hug))) for those who secretly or outwardly wish you were elsewhere.

Take time to journal about your struggles this week. Later on you will be amazed to compare your current feelings with how far you have come. You might also figure out creative ways to make new Christmas traditions that will make it seem like Christmas each year, even though it’s never quite the same as Christmases of the past.

On my first Christmas overseas, I had one other single American friend who shared a summery holiday with me in Thailand. We listened to a bootlegged cassette of Bing Crosby crooning “White Christmas” while sweat dripped on the Christmas cards we were signing. Being in a Buddhist country where there was no such celebration as Christmas was very odd. The only highlight was getting together with a small group of believers in a village church for an actual Christmas service.

I can count on one hand the number of Christmases I have spent north of the border in the past 24 years. For me, Christmas south of the border is the norm— poinsettias in full bloom in the yard, tamales and pozole served at the local church programs, fireworks, and warm weather.

Besides Christmas stockings and big parties (and all the baking involved with that), one other tradition I have maintained is directing a Christmas Chime Choir. Years ago I decided to invest a bit of inheritance money on a 3-octave set of chimes. My own children would never experience playing handbells in a big American church, but they could play chimes here in Mexico.

For about fourteen years, I have taught MKs to ring choir chimes, and now it is tradition to play for special services at Christmas time. Our signature piece is “Carol of the Bells.” For me, it literally rings in the Christmas season to fill my living room with two long banquet tables and young people making music together each week in anticipation of the holidays.

Christmas Eve will find me at a candlelight service with many other English-speaking families singing carols, ringing chimes, and watching the little kids act out the Nativity story while it is read aloud from Luke 2. Why? It’s tradition. I love tradition. I love the holidays. I hope you will, too.

IRL* Still missing my married sons and ddils*, but choosing to be joyful for all my many blessings this week, including my two college kids who are home.


  1. Having grown up as an MK and now living as a missionary myself, I have definitely had more Christmases away from extended family than I have had together with all of them. The Christmases we were "home" on furlough were definitely big gatherings with lots of family, and were very fun. It is hard to be away from my parents at this time of the year, but even when we lived in the States, we weren't always with them (they are still missionaries in the country where I grew up.) The part that is the hardest for me now is not that I can't be with my parents, it's that my kids can't be with my parents. It breaks my heart when my 5-year-old says, "Mommy, I'm sad because I miss Gramma and Papa." :-( But I definitely am making our own traditions here as our own family in this foreign country!

  2. Good for you starting new traditions and keeping it a happy time even though it's mixed with a bit of sadness. Hope you have a wonderful weekend, Junglewife.

  3. Thanks for the cyber hug. This year was harder than the last couple, for some reason. I enjoyed reading your blog and your perspective. Bless you Jamie Jo!

  4. Thanks for reading the blog, Lilly. Hope you have a wonderful new year and that you grow from the trials of last year.


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