Sitting on this lantern-lit porch, I hear the crickets making a racket in cool foliage around the edges of our garden. I hear two, maybe three different kinds of song-making insects. One is sharp, like a high squeak. The other is more melodious in a froggy kind of way. And I just can't tell if I'm hearing a third one or not.
We spent many Christmas seasons in Kenya where the fragrant fruit and flowers announced the goodness of the time of year. I grew accustomed to summery celebrations and sunscreen applications before we gathered as believers to sing and dance in an open place.
Moving to Europe meant that Christmas was no longer accompanied by flowers and plates piled high in mango. We learned to peel the shells off hot chestnuts, fresh from the coal fires in carts that stood on cold corners of grey streets. We made new traditions: coffee and pastry after dark in Sintra with the Uhlers, (where the twinkly white lights made it look like a scene from Disneyland's best attempt to create a quaint Old World charm, only it was better and it was REAL,) and wintery breakfasts with the Dempsey family.
Now the slapping cold of the damp Portuguese winter seems far away and my ability to comprehend that Christmas is coming seems farther away still.
Transition takes time-- this is certainty.
And so is this: the Christ-child was born in a manger to bring hope to a very needy world. Though my heart is slow to awaken to the celebration this year, there is no doubt that the truth of it still stands.