Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Ethiopian Christmas is Coming!

It's just a few days away...

I have read up and asked some questions....

Ethiopian Christmas is January 7th, so we are two days away from our celebration! When I think about how we will celebrate this year, I am struck by the contrast between our American Christmas and the Ethiopian Christmas. From the reading I have done, ETC is very simple. The family usually takes this opportunity to eat some meat, specifically doro wat (a spicy chicken dish, always accompanied with a hard boiled egg). The doro wat is served on injera. There MIGHT be one present exchanged and it is usually clothing. Then the family spends time together and plays games.

Pretty different than our food, gift and decoration extravaganza, huh?

I am so excited to be celebrating ETC this year! In fact, Joe and I are toying with the idea of only celebrating ETC next year and doing away with all the craziness and materialism of our American Christmases. Joe keeps saying, "We've got to do more simplifying, especially at Christmas." I look at this ETC celebration and I think this is an answer to what we have been looking for.

Did you catch that Ethiopians use Christmas as an opportunity to eat some meat? My dear friends who are missionaries in Addis told us that most Ethiopians eat meat twice a year, Christmas and Easter. Just let your mind sit there for a minute...meat two times a year, that's it. Truly, the Christmas feast of doro wat becomes a real celebration!

The presents are simple, if there are even any presents. Clothing. And we are not talking about padding an already crowded closet with the latest trend. A new outfit that will be THE clothing for the year.

And they are happy. I am very sad that George has already adopted an American-kid attitude. The presents were not good enough. The toys have already lost their appeal. The shirt was not like Harry's. Disgruntled, entitled and unappreciative. Our society breeds this in children. No matter how hard we try to keep our children's eyes on the Lord and not get distracted by the world, they are IN the world and can't help but be sucked into it. George played with ONE match-box car for 6 hours one day. Happily pushing it around the house, saying "Beep-beep" as he turned corners. That would never satisfy him today.

Commercials, other kids at school, visiting houses that are stuffed to the gills with toys...all these things breed discontent in children. And no longer is a few presents enough. Thankfully, my older kids are "getting it", but I think this battle is hard-fought in the years 4 - 10.

So, Joe and I wonder what Christmas would be like if we lived in Ethiopia. We would have our meal of meat, give the kids a new shirt or dress, play some games and then remind the children about Jesus' birth. Sounds good to me.

God chose for all of us to be born here in America in this time. He wants us to focus on Him regardless of the distractions and the comforts. That is our generations' biggest challenge. We see very little need for a savior.

How sad.

This year, we are celebrating both Christmases. I am not sure what we will do next year, but I know we will continue to strive to look different than the world around us. So, on Thursday, I will be picking up some injera and doro wat, wrapping up some Ethiopian clothing for the children and wish them all a merry Christmas.

1 comment:

Alicia-Marie Christensen said...

Traci,
I love your ideas for Christmas! Thanks for all of your encouragement and support. We hope to see you soon at church.

We celebrated Christmas very differently this year, we had cake for Jesus' birthday and didn't do any presents (this was our immediate family). It was the best Christmas we've had yet. Truly focusing in on Chirst's birth and celebrating the gift that He is to us!
I can't wait to see what our Christmas celebrations will be like next year!