Thursday, December 4, 2008

Our Most Unique Christmas

Scotland Style Santa Photos!

In 1995 our family spent Christmas outside of the USA. Our son, Christopher, was a missionary in Brazil so he spent a very hot Christmas in the jungle and his only present was a package of chocolate raisins given to him by his companion. (He dislikes raisins intensely but he managed!) We had sent him a package in October but it did not arrive in Brazil until March! In those days missionaries in Brazil were lucky to ever get a package. I am not sure how it is now.

During that same time, our oldest daughter, Jennifer, was serving and had just completed her mission in Scotland. Jim, Laura, and I went to Scotland to pick Jen up and to go on our first tour of 9 European countries. To me it was the most magical trip ever. Other than not having our son, Chris, with us, it was a dream vacation like no other. We left on December 14, 1994 and returned home on January 6, 1995. So we got to spend Christmas in Edinburgh Scotland and New Year's Eve in Lucerne, Switzerland, and New Year's Day in Paris. I will always remember these holidays as the most stress-free, and unique times with our daughters. It was amazing.

An Amazing Reunion for the Girls After 18 Months!

Here is an excerpt from my book I wrote about our trip after we came home. It started out as a letter to our son and turned out to be 60 plus type written pages. Heaven only knows if he ever did read it, I have my doubts.

"Well, that brings us to today, Christmas Eve! I cannot believe we are not at home getting ready for the big family extravaganza! Can you believe we just skipped Christmas at home this year? Whoever knew that was even an option? We came here without a single present purchased, no decorating, baking, shopping, wrapping, parties, it was wonderfully weird. Gramma Jo had given each of us $100.00 for Christmas so with that money, the rule was you had to buy gifts for the other three members of the family that were in Edinburgh. The other rule was the gifts have to be very small as we have limited space in our bags to get much of anything back home. So we said it had to be able to fit on the mantel of the flat we are staying in here. It was kind of difficult as the people you were trying to buy gifts for were constantly at your elbow. So we paired off and shopped for whoever wasn't with us at the time.

Simple Christmas~One Day Solutions

We bought a few rolls of wrapping paper from a street vendor in Paisley the other day. While shopping this morning I bought some beautiful pastries at a local bakery and they are little cakes shaped like presents with white frosting a little red bows. We also had to shop for our Christmas dinner as Jennifer had a friend who was alone so we invited him to come over on Christmas Day. Shopping in Scotland is so different. You have to go to the butcher, the baker, the candlestick maker to get all you need. It took a long time but was so much fun.

Christmas Eve~Little Present Pastries on the Table. No Fuss Baking!!

We wrapped our little presents and picked up a tiny Christmas tree for the mantel that is pre-decorated so~ so easy and fun. Ready in just one day...who knew that was possible? Everything would be perfect if you were here with us, Chris. Tonight we are actually having Top Ramen, doctored up, for dinner. It's one of Jen's concoctions she came up with while living here in Scotland. She and Laura have been doing a lot of the cooking. Am I in heaven or what?

3 flickr photos of St. Giles Cathedral

The Cathedral is shaped like a large cross
with a high rise pulput right in the middle of it.

We just got back from the midnight service at St. Giles Cathedral. It was beyond magnificent. We got there very early and sat in the pews with the heaters under them...that was fantastic as it was freezing! We had ring side seats for everything. By the time the service started there were about 5,000 people in there, five deep standing all around the walls and every seat was taken. We sang so many Christmas carols and some of them had familiar lyrics but tunes we had never heard before. O Come All Ye Faithful was the same but you would not have recognized O Little Town of Bethlehem. I am not sure what the Church of England calls their ministers, priests, pastors, or whatever, but when "he" came out he was dressed in a bright red robe and hat. The regalia looked very Catholic, it was pretty. He pointed out the life size manger in the center of the church and how it has sat in the exact same place for 7 centuries while Christmas had been celebrated. Now that is tradition!

The 700 Year Old Manger

The Choir Sang 'Silent Night' Outside After the Service!

The sermon was about being more Christlike and kind to all men. In that moment I realized on a new level how amazingly powerful the Gospel of Jesus Christ really is in both time and space. To be here with 5,000 Scottish people singing His praises and celebrating the birth of the babe in Bethlehem many centuries earlier was a beautiful spiritual experience. It was never to be forgotten.

Can this be our new family tradition? Every year in Edinburgh? I cannot see it ever happening but, oh boy, would it be great! Merry Christmas, Son...we love you and miss you so much! Your not being here is the only thing that makes this any less than pure perfection. But we know you are happy and celebrating the same Savior in Brazil right now. I hope it is all good for you.

O Holy Night...Goodnight, Son! And the Merriest of Christmases to you! How we can be having this much fun without you, I will never understand!

Love, Mom for all"


Miss Jen said...

That was a lovely Christmas. I think I've spent 4 Christmases there...Hopefully I'll get in one more!

Deanna said...

Lovely, just lovely.

Deanna :)