Living in Lima means that it has been a particularly different Christmas season this year. Unlike the traditional, snowy (or at least cold) Christmas that I am used to in Michigan, this has been quite the opposite. I can truly sympathize the song, “White Christmas” (I’m dreaming of a white Christmas, just like the ones I used to know…).
In Peru, people have gotten into the Christmas spirit. Houses are still decorated in white lights, which a majority of the time are flashing at ridiculous speeds and accompanied by music. Department stores are decorated in reds and greens and host weekly (if not daily) sales, trying to entice customers in their doors. A few nights ago, Billy and I went to the newly restored Teatro Municipal in downtown Lima to watch a performance of the Nutcracker. Even Starbucks has decorated their stores with red berries, evergreens and snowmen and have started preparing their line of wintery flavored drinks.
For as long as I can remember, my family has had the tradition of spending Christmas Eve at Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn. We would get more or less dressed up and walk around the museum, looking at the classic Christmas decorations from the mid-1800s onward. It was also when my brother and I would sit on Santa’s lap and tell him what we wanted for Christmas (to this day, I still don’t understand how we thought that by telling Santa the day before, he would have time to fulfill our requests – ah, I guess it was part of the magic of being a child). This wasn’t just a tradition we had while Randy and I were children, to this day, we would visit the museum on Christmas Eve – just only visiting Santa once in a while!
Living about 3,700 miles away, I didn’t participate in this long standing family tradition this year. In fact, Christmas Eve was quite different in Lima. Instead of a wintery (or at least cold) day, Billy and I went to the beach in Chorrillos. Instead of sweaters, winter coats and mittens, we were wearing sandals, sunglasses and t-shirts.
Since the past month hadn’t felt very Christmas-like, in an effort to recreate at least one tradition from home, we spent a part of the evening at a candlelight service at a church in San Isidro. Very similar to the 11pm candlelight service at First Presbyterian, the night was pure lessons and carols. If I had closed my eyes, it would have felt like I was sitting in a pew in Dearborn.
During the carols, I was thinking about what my favorite Christmas carols would be. I could literally listen to Ave Maria and O Holy Night forever. The words and melodies are just beautiful – especially when sung by a classic like Frank Sinatra, or more modern-day, Josh Groban.
But if I could name just one more favorite, it would be “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing.” While I love the whole song, the third verse is what gives me those warm, loving chills down my spine every time I hear it.
Hail the heav’n-born Prince of Peace!
Hail the Son of Righteousness!
Light and life to all He brings
Ris’n with healing in His wings
Mild He lays His glory by
Born that man no more may die
Born to raise the sons of earth
Born to give them second birth
Hark! The herald angels sing
“Glory to the newborn King!”
There is just something wonderful about the lines, “born that man no more may die, born to raise the sons of earth, born to give them second birth” that gets me every time. Of course we sang this as one of the carols, and like every time, I could truly feel the magic and reason for this season.
Today, after opening presents in the morning (if we were Peruvian, it would have been last night and we would have set off fireworks at midnight, but that’s a story for another time), we will continue celebrating. We’re heading out to the “suburbs” of Lima, to the town of Chaclacayo, to spend the day with the General Director of Scripture Union and his wife.
So this year, I’m incorporating new traditions into the season (I think going to the beach will be a favorite…) while remembering why we celebrate.
May you have a wonderful Christmas with friends and family, wherever you may be.
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. -Isaiah 9:6