Many years ago I found myself far from home as Christmas approached. I was in a country that spoke a different language and I hardly knew anyone I was with. There was no escaping the fact it was December 24th and the next day was sure to come.
Had I been a child removed from mum, dad, sisters and a visit to Santa, I can imagine the trauma of no stocking hanging on the mantle, no tree, no presents, no Christmas songs to sing along with (“All I want for Christmas Is My Two Front Teeth” and Gene Autry singing “Frosty the Snowman” were my favorites) and no turkey dinner! I would have found a way to celebrate in some way. No matter what! .
This wasn’t going to be easy. The place where we were staying had no fir or pine trees to chop down for a Christmas tree, let alone a stove to cook a turkey. Heck there weren’t even any turkeys in that part of the planet. What about gifts? Presents? Oh, what to do? When in doubt call an emergency meeting! We huddled up and agreed ….if there was a will there was a way…. we needed to capture that magic of Christmas spirit found in a child. The adventure had begun!
We went outside and eventually found a scragglyy little bush; snipped it with thanks, brought it in and weighted it down with pack sacks. We covered it with the most colorful sleeping bag we could spare and hung every imaginable thing on it. Journal paper cut outs, bracelets, rings and shoelaces (tied up in bows) took the place of bobbles. Passports took the place of those special envelopes someone always tucked away in the branches and a “star” was fashioned from a used tin can of tomatoes. What about Christmas lights?
OK! Place the flashlight at the base and point it up! It’s either that or taking turns holding it on the tree. Easy decision! We hung our socks on a clothes line made of bungee cords, then picked names and wrote notes of good cheer on them and scrunched them up as presents. Someone came up with the idea of building an oven outside to cook our Christmas dinner. We did it using flat stones gathered from the hillside. Meanwhile, at the little village across the valley we purchased a leg of lamb. Roast lamb for Christmas!
Rumor had it there was an American army base not too far away so, two brave souls volunteered to go see if they could find it and pickup what they could to add to the festivities. Mission accomplished! Christmas Eve turned out to be a joyful flurry of activity and a fairy tale come true.
Christmas morning we wished each other Merry Christmas and opened our “gifts”. After fresh fried eggs, hot coffee & toast we went for a long walk up to some old caves high on the mountainside. If they could only talk! In the late afternoon we picked a fresh salad right from the hillside and cooked that lamb in our home made oven. We sang our favorite songs and enjoyed the bounty scored from the U.S. base. After a deliciously different Christmas dinner, we laughed as we reminisced about our Christmas’s past with family and friends back home. We thoroughly enjoyed each others company. A great time was had by all!
Looking back, Christmas is what I choose to make of it. What really matters is capturing the spirit wherever, however and with whoever I am with. This generous moment need not be for just a day. It can be for every day. Happiness, I am told is a choice I can make whatever the circumstance. I believe that! I simply need to remind myself of the child within me.
Merry Christmas to you, wherever you are and whoever you are with.