My husband’s family immigrated to the US from Sweden and Norway in the late 19th century. Since I have been married, Christmas Eve has meant baked ham, Swedish meatballs, potato sausage and various accompaniments, including pickled herring. I learned to make my own potato sausage using my husband’s grandmother’s recipe when we lived in South Africa. The local butcher graciously stuffed it for me. I spent an evening last week making lefse, a thin potato bread something like a tortilla. We spread it with butter and sprinkle with sugar and roll it like a cigar.
Most Americans would be surprised to learn that Brussels sprouts are a Christmas tradition in England. Most Americans can’t stand Brussels sprouts, but then most Americans have never eaten them fresh. In South Africa our neighbors celebrate with a braai or potjie. Our New Zealand friends go to the beach.
When we were living in Brazil, we asked our young adult Sunday school class to share their most memorable Christmas. Every Brazilian talked about the best church Christmas program. Only Americans like us shared family memories. But then, our Brazilian friends were generally the only believers in their families. The church was their family, and their most precious Christmas memories were of fellowship in the house of God.
In Mozambique we spent Christmas afternoons reading our new books or playing new games in our closed-up living room while the antique air conditioner rattled away on the wall in an effort to keep the temperature down in the low eighties.
No matter where you live or how you choose to celebrate, may you rejoice this season in the Lord of all the earth who was born as a human child to redeem for himself people of every tongue and nation.
Ascribe to the LORD, all you families of nations,
ascribe to the LORD glory and strength.
Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name;
bring an offering and come into his courts.
Worship the LORD in the splendor of his holiness;
tremble before him, all the earth.
Say among the nations, “The LORD reigns.” Psalm 96:7-10a
LeAnne Hardy has lived in six countries on four continents. Her books for young people come out of her cross-cultural experiences and her passion to use story to convey spiritual truths in a form that will impact lives. Visit her at www.leannehardy.net or find out more about her recent trip to Kenya on her blog.