Friday, December 4, 2009

'Tis the Season, Part I

As I may have mentioned before, one of the [many] missionary mottos is “It’s not bad, it’s just different.” Sometimes this phrase goes through my head a dozen or more times per day. It reminds me to stop being egocentric and ethnocentric. It reminds me there is often more than one right answer.
Lately I have had the opportunity to think this phrase even more than usual. Why? Christmas. It is completely and totally different here. Obviously, there is the weather to consider. It is difficult to feel in the “holiday spirit” when it’s at least 100 degrees outside. We work up a sweat doing nothing. I have little desire for hot cider and candles and Christmas lights; it seems somehow counterintuitive. Of course, to those around us, this is completely normal.
At the end of October, Josh and I went geocaching with a friend in Windhoek. It was so hot that we had to stop every once in a while to sit in the shade [Random fact: When there is not 100% humidity, there is a difference in temperature between sunlight and shade. Somebody should let Minnesota know.]. We went into a store to get some water, and the employees were wearing velvet Santa hats. I could barely stand having my own hair on my head.
We haven’t seen decorations on any homes, but towns do put up shaped lights on light poles. However, when we were recently in Swakopmund, the shapes included seashells, starfish, seals, and a surfer. That just doesn’t say “festive yuletide spirit” to me. Stores have silver, red, and gold garland, and we even saw hanging snowflakes in the local grocery store (ironic since it never snows here). Additionally, it’s interesting to note that “Christmas trees” here are all artificial pine trees, which is interesting since they don’t grow here.

Check back soon for a post on how these differences have made me view this season differently.


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