05 January 2016

The festive season: Christmas Day

For many years, Karen Vineyard has hosted 'Carols by Candlelight' and invited the surrounding community to join us. This year, because of rain, we got creative at the last minute and found a location with a roof. The event went on as planned and was lovely as always.

Tree being decorated in front of City Hall, in downtown Nairobi

Christmas is a bit different here in Kenya than it is in the States. The focus is more on being with family and sharing a meal. In fact, gift-giving is rare. Sadly though, consumerism makes more inroads with each passing year and all the modern shopping malls look like those in the West. I also see guys dressed up as Santa Claus more and more, sometimes in blue suits.

In Kenya, if the budget allows, new clothes are bought for the children to wear to church on Christmas morning. At the various traditional churches I’ve attended I’ve never heard a sermon on the Christmas story or even a Swahili Christmas song.

The academic year closes in late November, which means all the children are at home until early January. Families that are able travel upcountry to their ancestral areas, sometimes staying for the whole month of December. There's actually a mass exodus from Nairobi.

Along with August, December is a common month for boys to be circumcised. Christmas Eve is of no consequence in Kenya, but like most other Commonwealth countries in the world, the 26th is a holiday known as Boxing Day.

There's no 'dreaming of a white Christmas' in Kenya!

Chol, William, Linet, Derrick, Jeremy, Robai, and I all attended the Christmas Day service at Karen Vineyard. Then we headed to my house for lunch - lasagne, brownies, chai, and good fellowship.

On Christmas Eve, Linet's family, Robai, and I watched "The Nativity Story", a great movie. At church on Christmas Day, we saw part of the story acted out by a few children and, of course, preached about. Later, at my house, each of us colored a drawing of the Christmas story and read the corresponding Scripture from Matthew and Luke out loud. Together, these things helped my friends gain a better understanding of what Christmas is truly all about.

I made a simple homemade tree from the branch of a Whistling Thorn Acacia

Krismasi Njema! Happy Christmas, from Kenya!
"My idea of Christmas, whether old-fashioned or modern, is very simple: loving others. Come to think of it, why do we have to wait for Christmas to do that?" 
      ~ Bob Hope (1903-2003), comedian, actor, singer

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