Hailing from the Northwest of the United States, Christmas equals Winter. The cold weather fosters beautiful togetherness. Candles, warm, steaming cups of tea, chai (my favorite!), and hot chocolate, fires, snowy nights when it’s just too cold to go anywhere. Evergreen trees veiled with frost and pots of hot soup and crusty, homemade bread. The oven, with Christmas cookies baking, helps to heat up the house. Songs centering around snow, cold, sleighs, winter wonderlands serve as tailor-made background music while wrapping presents. Putting on a pair of warm, fuzzy socks and wrapping cold fingers around that perfect mug is part of Christmas…in the Northern Hemisphere.
So what does one do when living in the Southern Hemisphere, where December 25th falls in the middle of summer?
I’ve spent more than a couple of days bordering tears knowing Christmas is steadily approaching and I just don’t have the heart to decorate, bake cookies, even put up a tree. Wait, where do you even get a tree in Africa? I was outvoted 5-1 for using a palm tree in a pot (it was a lame idea). It is hot and getting hotter. The schools just ended for the year and everyone is disappearing to various hideouts to spend the summer holiday. Basically all of South Africa shuts down the whole month of December!
Just how do you get into the Christmas spirit with warm, gusty wind while wearing flip flops and drinking iced tea?
Fake it until you make it.
Great advice, isn’t it? From another American friend, experienced in feeling like a misfit in the Southern Hemisphere! This is how to fake the Christmas spirit…
Step 1: Turn on some Christmas music! Music has the ability to direct your soul, which is why worship music has such a powerful effect on us. Blast your favorite holiday playlist. Even if it’s nothing short of ridiculous to be singing ‘Let it Snow’ in 85 degree weather!
Step 2: Find something to decorate. This is where tradition is NOT helpful! Because our tree hunt ended without the tree, I am forcing my Very Traditional Grim Nature to bed and flex in order to allow creativity to flow. In lieu of a tree, we have an arrangement of cedar boughs next to our nativity scene. Thankfully, my Grim nature also gives me great skill in improvising. We spent zero money on this project, too! Frugal and Flexible.
Step 3: Adapt. Adapt traditions to suit the new climate! I’m not a super-crafty mama so I am very proud of these salt dough starfish ornaments we made. On Christmas we plan to head to the beach, come home and throw something on the grill. Does this sound traditional? No. But do you know what isn’t going to change? Homemade cinnamon rolls and 3-minute eggs on Christmas morning!
Step 4: Center the Messiah. Without the strong Christmas Culture, it is that much easier to focus on celebrating Christ and keeping him in the center. Our tree really isn’t the centerpiece of our decor this year. Instead the nativity scene is. As we wrap presents, we will place them around the nativity, recalling how the King of Kings was showered with gifts upon his birth.
Our children’s eyes sparkled as the decorations were hung. They didn’t care it’s 90 degrees out nor did anyone ask me to bake sugar cookies (thank goodness. Really didn’t want to turn on the oven today!). Instead I made a big pitcher of iced Rooibos tea sweetened with honey and lemon slices fresh off our neighbor’s tree. We are adapting. Merry Christmas from the Roets Family!