Advent is a season of good news. In this season we prepare, by faith, to celebrate the birth of God-With-Us, Immanuel. According to the prophet Isaiah, this good news comes not just for us whose lives have been attuned to listen for, celebrate, and receive it: it comes also for the many others who wait day and night for us to act upon it - the oppressed; the brokenhearted; the captives and prisoners: the mourning, ruined, and devastated.
What a year this has been for the whole world. In light of that we asked some of our board members and directors to share fun Christmas memories either from childhood or present day. One of the best things about Tying Vines is the variety of backgrounds and cultures represented in the organization. This is seen in the fun memories that our leadership shared with us. We hope that these memories will bring a smile to you and remind you that no matter what is going on or where we are, His arrival calls for celebration.
As a child growing up in the late seventies in Lebanon, when not dodging bullets from the civil war, Wael remembers his church’s Christmas program in Beirut. Practice for the choir would begin weeks before with youth and adults making up the group. After the cantata on Christmas Eve there would be food, skits, games and devotionals. “You have to understand, the war started when I was 4 and we didn’t get out much. So being able to get together with others and have that time was the highlight of the year.
Josh also shared a childhood memory from Christmastime in rural Kenya. Along with watching “A Muppet Christmas Carol” on the 12V battery powered projector used for showing the Jesus Film, they built a Scandinavian Broomstick Christmas tree “complete with small candles in the wood broomsticks for ambiance.” As they only had one indoor spigot with no additional water available, they watched the tree closely. Except for the one year when they were distracted by their movie and the tree caught on fire! Josh said it wasn’t a big fire but still very exciting.
Bill Stewart, who grew up in Tabriz, Iran in the late 1960s and 70’s tells about an unemployed Christian rug weaver that his mother set up with a loom and wool and then helped him sell the small Persian rugs. Bill still has the rug she had woven for him. Bill had made a special request of the weaver and asked him to weave “Billy” into the carpet. It’s something he treasures even till today.
Joe wrote of one of the special Christmas traditions they have with their kids. Joseph, Stefanie and Sam grew up in Turkey and the United Arab Emirates. Each year as the family decorates the tree they share stories and memories that go with the ornaments.
Bob talked about the long ago first Christmas with 8 year old stepdaughter MacKenzie. A Christmas with a new house, and new stepdad and a new kitten that she named “Snowflake”. “Now she has given us a new grandson which will make this Christmas extra special as well!”
Mary and Melissa wrote about the many special Christmases they celebrated (and in Melissa’s case, still celebrate) during their time in the Middle East. Chilis Restaurant for Christmas dinner with the Pages, Kenneys, Hildebrands and whoever else was in town was one memory. Christmas in Cambodia with the Settles – complete with a sand snowman, and Adam catching a miracle fish with no bait! One year in Oman, Jeff, Mary, Kyle and Kyra had a Wonder Years marathon on Christmas Day. The Mitchells’ celebrations in the Middle East far outnumber their time anywhere else. One tradition is to host Christmas in the Dunes - which they have done for the last 20 years. “We sit across from Saudi Arabia, put up our mini-Christmas tree and sing carols under the stars. Every year it is a completely different group of new friends from many different countries. This makes it one of our favorite traditions. When the boys were young, they would take them to ride the “Christmas donkey”. (Really it was just a normal donkey in the Arabic Souk.) And Christmas isn’t complete until “we take our annual Christmas camel photos”!
God bless you and your family as you celebrate and make memories (virtual or in person) during this holiday season. And blessings to you as you anticipate 2021!