Tonight I sit in the glow of the Christmas tree, in a living room shared with twelve people. (4 of whom are my own children) It's been an amazing Thanksgiving weekend, full of anything but traditions. It's hard to think about all that we "missed out" on back home this year, but God has blessed us with so much this weekend.
Thursday we had a wonderful Thanksgiving dinner, surrounded by "family," with all of the traditional fixin's, and a few more that we don't normally have--like sweet potato pie and orange/cranberry sauce. But it's truly just not the same when you're eating in a cafeteria...
Friday we didn't do ANY shopping! Instead, we took a 2 hour bus ride to Washington D.C. for a cross-cultural activity. Some of our goals were to engage internationals in conversation, observe cross-cultural parenting, listen for 10 different foreign languages, prayer-walk, and share our faith with at least one person. We started out at the Capitol building where we interacted with people from Korea, China, Pakistan, India, the Dominican Republic and the Bronx! (Oh, sorry. They just sounded like they were from a different country!) It was amazing how open they were to talk to us. All we did was show an interest in them, their language and culture! We even had one lady from China ask to take a picture of our family! I guess she wanted to share with her friends back home what a "typical" American family of 6 looks like! And I'll never forget trying to figure out how to buy tickets in the subway, while looking for a bathroom to change a poopy diaper...panic, if you know what I mean. And who should come to our rescue? An Amish man, of course!
On Saturday we took a trip to Virginia Beach. I can honestly say that I've never dreamed of swimming in the ocean for Thanksgiving...but it was unusually warm here, and why not? I realize that for some people 70 degrees still isn't warm enough, but we're from Idaho! It was a beautiful day for the beach!
Tonight after Sunday evening worship, which resembled church from North Africa, we came back to our quad and set up our tree. Again, it was not our typical family tradition. There was no trip to the mountains, in the snow, to cut down a tree this year. Just a trip to Walmart...nothing says "Merry Christmas" like the "Made in China" tag. But it was a joy to share this special moment of setting up the tree with "grandparents" and "uncles."
There's a strange mix of emotions within me tonight. I don't know when I'll get to spend a "traditional" Thanksgiving at home again. For that matter, I don't even know where home is...But I do know that as long as I am with my husband and children, I am home. I mourn the old traditions some. (Or maybe I just miss "home cooking," recliners, and loved ones.) But I also look forward to the new traditions and amazing experiences that God has before us in the next stage of this great adventure! Afterall, it's all about Him and His family, not the house I'm in, or the food that I'm eating.