My dad wrote and asked me what I was going to do to commemorate today’s date of 12-12-12. I hadn’t really thought about it, but now that he’s mentioned it, it’s eating me up that I’m not really honoring this rare event. He is planning to do something like eat a dozen eggs or a dozen doughnuts. Eggs have been too hard to come by around here lately, and Dunkin Donuts too pricey. He also mentioned running 12 miles, and performing 12 acts of kindness. Running 12 miles - no. Acts of kindness? That I can do.
In observing Advent with my family, I have been ruminating on Christmases past. So in a nod to today's Dozen Date, here are a dozen memorable Christmas moments:
1. The year my grandfather almost shot us. I must have been five or six, and we were driving from Savannah to Mississippi to visit my grandparents for Christmas. We decided to arrive a little earlier than planned and surprise them. I remember arriving in the middle of the night, giggling and shivering as we tiptoed up to the back door to let ourselves in. We pushed the door open, and there were Mamaw and Papaw, peeping out from behind a wall, Papaw's pistol pointed straight at us. We learned our lesson - no more surprise arrivals in the middle of the night.
2. The Christmas our dog was eaten. We went interior in Kalimantan for Christmas, leaving our dog and house helper at home. When we returned, we noticed the dog was missing. My beloved helper Orpa came to me in tears, saying that she thought I had been serious when I joked a few weeks back about eating the dog, so she had given it to some friends for Christmas dinner.
3. Skiing on Christmas. When I was 15 our family went to New York for Christmas - we toured NYC, saw Lake Placid, and on Christmas Day we went cross-country skiing and I fell in love with lentil stew.
4. Snow in Savannah. One blessed Christmas it actually snowed in Savannah. Three glorious inches. It shut the city down and it was wonderful. Dad took us sledding by pulling us behind the van up and down Daffin Drive.
5. Our duet. When we lived in Tennessee, David and I were youth leaders at a local church. For their Hanging of the Greens service, a very solemn affair, we were asked to sing "What Child is This?" We had barely started singing when something cracked David up and he laughed the rest of the song, while I soldiered on, singing harmony all by myself. It was mortifying. And yet hilarious.
6. My first Christmas as a mom. I remember holding baby Carter, just a few weeks old, feeling clueless, exhausted, and enraptured by this tiny baby. I was able to imagine better than ever how Mary must have felt, and realized that Incarnation - Christ coming in human form - was a messy yet glorious business.
|My dad and Carter|
7. "Snow" in Singapore. Two of our kids were born in Singapore in late November, and the famous shopping street Orchard Road was totally decked out for the holidays. We took the kids down to stand in front of one of the big malls and play in the "snow" - soap bubbles that were sprayed out.
8. "Merry stinkin' Christmas!" In 2002 we ventured interior to the village of Long Layu to celebrate Christmas with the people there. We were fed copious amounts of food - including snails and water buffalo and rice in every form imaginable - and serenaded all night by bamboo bombs, dogs barking under the house, loud music, and chainsaws being revved. After a sleepless night we stumbled onto the porch Christmas morning and were greeted by our MAF teammate with a line that has become a classic in our family: "Merry stinkin' Christmas!"
9. Christmas card photos. An annual tradition, our Christmas photos tend not to capture us at our best, but just as we are. Screaming toddlers, big ears, closed eyes, wigs and all.
Awkward Family Photos, meet the Beams.
And the Holstens.
10. Christmas visiting, Indonesian style. Go to your friend's house. Sit on the floor. Eat soto ayam (Indonesian chicken soup), drink pop, eat cookies. Chat. Get back on your motorcycle and go to your next friend's house. Repeat at least 17 times or until you can no longer eat another spoonful. Really, it's fun!! We learned our first Christmas in Tarakan that the key is to pace yourself.
11. Year of the pogo stick. One Christmas my cousins got a pogo stick from Santa and brought it to our house. We all had great fun with it, but the best part was when our grandfather Pop got on it. We staged a video so that it looked like he was doing all these crazy tricks on it.
12. Christmas Eve Gift! Some of the women in my family have a tradition of trying to be the first person to say "Christmas Eve Gift" on Christmas Eve. Whoever says it first has to give the other person a gift. I have the definite advantage living overseas because Christmas Eve happens here half a day before the East coast, but collecting my winnings has proven tricky.
Remembering good times together with family is one of my favorite Christmas traditions. I look forward to seeing what memories we make this first Christmas spent in Papua.