I'm Dreaming...

Close to the time of celebrating our second Christmas in Kenya, I wrote an article to send back to the paper in Houghton Lake.  I found that living in a foreign country sometimes brought on feelings of living in parallel worlds - the one I was experiencing at the moment, and the one filled with memories of people and places I missed.   The funny thing is that now I experience the same thing.  I live back in the United States, but often I can close my eyes and am immediately transported to Nairobi, perhaps having spiced tea with Mecdes, my Ethiopian refugee friend who became a disciple in Nairobi.

I believe this is a common experience of people who move and live in new cultures or even just in places very different from their "norm."  While the following article is filled with my memories, I hope it sparks your special memories.  I found that even just re-typing the article brought back some deep feelings of nostalgia and at the same time I felt great joy and gratitude for the many blessings in my life.

Again, this article is reprinted with permission:

"I'm Dreaming of a White Christmas" has always been one of my favorite Christmas carols.  Growing up in Michigan, it was just a pretty song.  Now that I live in Africa, the words have taken on a whole new meaning in my mind.  I am dreaming of a white Christmas.  Just like the ones I used to know.  In Houghton Lake the tree tops do glisten and I know children listen to hear sleigh bells in the snow.

This will be our second Christmas in Nairobi.  Last year everything was so new, different and exciting, I honestly didn't get homesick during the holidays.  This year I feel a bit differently.  Christmas to me is a family time.  A time to take a break from routine chores, buy special presents for the people I love and somehow express how special those people are to me.

It is hard to be away from my family.  I long to be where everything is familiar.  I dream of fish-tailing in the car after a fresh snow has fallen.  Of driving down streets where every house is alight with bright, twinkling lights.  I dream of trimming the Christmas tree and convincing my mom to put on the icicles, because "mom's do it so much better, you know."  (And it takes forever to put them on so they look really pretty!)

I dream of baking special cookies and making holiday candy.  Of packing pretty containers full of my favorite morsels for friends and family to enjoy.  I dream of my grandmother's wonderful popcorn balls.  I always ate at least two at her house on Christmas Eve and of course, took one with me for the road.

I dream of telephoning my grandparents for Mom to find out what we could bring for dinner and what time we should be there.  I dream of wrapping presents at the last minute, finishing just before Dad was ready to leave us behind if we didn't come quickly.

I dream of walking into my father's parent's home on Christmas Eve, kissing my grandparents and whoever else happened to have arrived already.  I dream of the Charlie Brown Christmas trees that would sometimes be up on the front porch.  I dream of all the grandchildren begging to "please open the presents now."  And I dream of being chosen to pass out the presents.

Since I am pregnant, I often dream of the smells of food drifting from the kitchen.  Turkey and dressing. Ham. Salads. Desserts!

I also dream of the ride home on snow-covered roads, watching the shadows of the moon fall on white fields.  Everything was so peaceful and calm.  Dad always played Christmas music on the radio.  I would munch away on my popcorn ball, savoring every single bite.

Christmas morning was always interesting at home.  My brothers and I pushed each other to be the child who would brave the perils of waking Mom and Dad up so early.  My youngest brother's name is Michael.  After the Life cereal commercial became so popular, Bob and I usually looked at each other and, yep, you guessed it, said, "let's get Mikey to do it."  Being the youngest, we figured he had the best shot anyway!

After settling down with a fresh cup of coffee, Mom and Dad would allow us to begin opening presents.  What a mess we made.  Some families follow rules of order, but not us!  I am surprised no toys ever got lost in all that wrapping paper!  What fun we would have.  Cries of "wow, thanks," "hey, look at this," or "thanks Mom and Dad" hopefully were heard as often as I remember.

Then on to breakfast.  Eggs.  French toast or pancakes.  Monkey bread.  Sausage.  Juice.  Toast.  A feast!  It was wonderful.

I remember driving to my Mom's parents house around noon.  Dinner was amazing!  (Remember, I am pregnant!)  Ham and gravy has to be the most delicious food on the face of this earth.  Mashed potatoes. My grandmother's baked beans.  Desserts!  My mouth is watering!

I dream of playing with my cousins.  Of putting on shows for the adults after the presents were opened. 

I dream of my family.  Of sitting on Dad's lap after I was too big for it.  Of sitting next to my Mom with the "big" girls talking.  Of my brothers and I arguing over who would sit in the middle in the back seat on the way home.  Of falling asleep and laying all over each other, exhausted after waking up at four in the morning.  Of getting home, ready to play with our new toys again.  Of watching the Christmas tree all lit up and listening to Christmas music.

Christmas memories are some of the very best of my childhood.  Christmas is synonymous with family to me.  And come December 25th, whether I am in Nairobi, Kenya or sitting in Houghton Lake across the table from my Dad eating breakfast, I will be home for the holidays.

Merry Christmas Mom and Dad!

Lori ZieglerComment