I'm loving the Simple this Christmas.
For an expat living in Jordan, this Christmas season offers a new simplicity with some sweet relief. Compared to the hoopla of Christmas in the Western world with loads of Christmas pressure to have a “perfect Christmas”, it’s actually quite refreshing and lovely to be here, now.
Here are the beautiful things I’ve discovered about Christmas in Amman:
1) Low pressure. I come from a large suburb of Atlanta, Georgia where people take the Christmas season very seriously. I always felt a little bit of pressure at Christmas time to do Christmas "right" by "Southern" standards. This year, I am thrilled with the excuse to not decorate the outside of my house, send 150 Christmas cards, perfectly try to portray our not-so-perfect family, shop days on end for loads of presents, or spend hours and resources preparing for an annual Christmas party that always came and went faster than I could taste the punch. Here in Jordan, we don our tree, have a few friends over for Christmas dinner, and that’s about it!
2) I can picture the story. Take a drive just a few miles outside of Amman and you’ve got shepherds that probably haven’t changed a whole lot in 2000 years. I like that I can drive to the hills, the shepherds and the sheep. I can picture the ones who got to see that glorious night sky, first. Here, I can connect with the wonder of that first Christmas night.
3) We get to be “cozy”. The Norwegians have a formal word for a sense of coziness in winter: “koselig” and they take great delight in ‘cozying up’ at Christmas time. We too light our candles, sit bundled with our tea and huddle by the sobas. We enjoy resting, chatting or sitting with a good book as we nestle under our blankets on these long winter nights.
4) We can enjoy Nature: Winter doesn’t prevent us from enjoying the Dead Sea or driving to a beautiful Wadi to take a hike. Because Christmas time in particular provides cooler temps in the desert; we can hike parts of Jordan that are too hot to hike during other times of the year.
5) There’s NO family tension. We are here - most of us - without extended family. I love and miss my family dearly-as I am guessing some of you do too. However, sometimes Christmas family gatherings bring up unresolved tension. We all are on our own here, so we may be able to bypass the typical family arguments that ensue at Christmas time. Instead of enduring family drama, we get together with like-minded friends and we enjoy each others’ company. Not out of obligation or tradition, but because we want to be together.
I like being here, now.
I like that the extent of my decorating is donning a simple tree and 2 garlands.
I like that I am here with friends, and I like that instead of driving hours across icy roads to be on time for a family Christmas Dinner, I will host a few who have to no place to go on Christmas Day.
I love that I don’t have to visit malls and super stores every day.
I love that I live within a stone’s throw of the birth place of Christianity.
And I love that this December, I get to live in a world of Arabic and falafel.
I love that, night after night this December, I get to light a candle to represent my wish and prayer for peace for you, and for this part of the world, my home for now.
May your Christmas season be filled with the simple treasures of living here, now.
Love and blessings to all,
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