It’s a Christmas season like no other I’ve spent. And it’s come on the heels of two Christmas seasons that I’ll never forget.
Christmas 2017 finds me back in California after spending the the previous two in the villages of Uganda.
Holiday lights shine on homes nearby. Traffic backs up near shopping centers. The parking lots look pretty full as bargain-hunters make their pilgrimage to buy toys and gifts for loved ones. It’s a commercial tradition that begins earlier each year.
I am working at a big retailer. It’s a first for me to see the Christmas shopping scene up close.
Crowds come early. The aisles of toys, neatly prepared at the start of the day, are turned into busy avenues of decision-making before the popular attention-grabbers run out.
Parents discretely peak at their wish-lists. Kids often join them in the search for holiday cheer. Young ones play with whatever they can get their hands on then discard it wherever they may. This cultural exercise occurs hour after hour, day after day until it’s time to move on to the next secular holiday.
Ten thousand miles away it was a much calmer scene in the days before the savior’s birth.
While Christmas carols could occasionally be heard over the radio, decorated trees were few. In the homes where I stayed in 2015 and 2016 there were no gifts exchanged. The Ugandans I knew were not awaiting Santa Claus.
Fellowship and community are cultural mainstays in Africa. The celebration of the baby Jesus takes place in the form of worship, family gatherings and feasts.
It’s simple. It’s quiet. It’s Christmas.