We have done our very best to make this Christmas memorable for our kids and I think we’ve done a good job. It is hard to be so far from family, friends and everything familiar, but we have kept some old traditions and had a lot of fun doing new things, as well.
The boys had a Christmas program a couple of weeks ago at their school. Each grade sang a couple of songs. It was great. The boys both participated, which is always iffy with our kids. :) I have NO idea where they get that from…
Chris and I were in Ethiopia three years ago to bring Kayla home. We were here over Christmas and spent Christmas Eve at the Sheraton with some other adoptive parents with us. Once we knew we were moving to Ethiopia, we said we’d do the same thing with our kids. The Sheraton feels like a world of its own. You do NOT feel like you are in Ethiopia when you are at the Sheraton. The air is cleaner, there is no crowding and everything is decadent. Usually when we go, it’s to play at the free playground and maybe get some cotton candy–because that’s about all we can afford there. For Christmas Eve, however, we went all out to create some special memories for our kids. We have loads of traditions we do back home, but most of that was not possible this year, so Christmas Eve at the Sheraton was our way to do some similar things in Ethiopia.
We went with the Martins–some of our closest friends. We are SO lucky to have each other in Ethiopia. I don’t think it normally happens that friends get to serve together, so we realize how fortunate we are. It’s almost like having family. :) We spent 7 hours at the Sheraton yesterday. We took great family photos, the kids got their faces painted, watched some “circus” acts and played at the playground and fountains. The girls took a walk through the hotel and encountered some treats on a cart. Abigail asked for one and the man graciously handed each girl a little plate, wrapped adorably, with the cutest little Christmas treats on them. I’m sure they were for the paying guests, but whatever. We all enjoyed those little “stolen” goodies. We sat and listened to a quintet play beautiful music and the kids all enjoyed hot chocolate. There was a quick visit with Santa, more playing by the fountains and then it was time for dinner.
The Sheraton puts on a Christmas Eve buffet that is TO DIE FOR. They have EVERYTHING. There was fantastic bread, cheese, lunch meat, turkey, duck, sushi, an entire table of desserts and so much more. It was decadent, delicious, expensive and amazing. Three years ago, we did not appreciate the buffet nearly as much as we did this year. Good cheese and affordable lunch meat are unheard of here. The kids enjoyed that the most! Kayla insisted on Ethiopian food. She was free, so whatever. The rest of us filled plate after plate after plate. When the bill came, we didn’t even gasp–we were too happy and full to bother. It was a wonderful day and evening. The Sheraton also does a little light show with their fountain that we all got to sit and watch for a while. It was really special and definitely NOT something you can do in WI at Christmastime. We will, no doubt, miss Christmas Eve at the Sheraton next year as we will be back in the States. I think we will forever have our hearts in both places and neither will ever seem complete.
Christmas morning, we opened presents, which there were plenty of. Stockings were filled to the brim. It was a great morning topped off with our traditional bread pudding that I absolutely HAD to have, no matter how much the cream cheese cost. We spent the evening with the Martins at their house having great fun and food. We sang Christmas carols and enjoyed a fire in their fireplace as the evening got chilly. There were some skype conversations back home mixed in there, too. Thank GOD for technology to help keep us in touch with everyone we love and miss so much more during the holidays.
Really, as different as this was from almost every other Christmas we have had as a family, it was wonderful and we felt very blessed to have these experiences in this country that we love with our dear friends. While we sacrifice much on a daily basis, it was so amazing to have a wonderful Christmas and to make new memories here. We feel God’s presence a lot and yesterday was definitely one of those days where we knew He was watching over us. It was full of beauty and peace. We thoroughly enjoyed every second of it.
Next up, we visit Kenya for a little vacation and then my parents arrive for an extended visit. We are super excited for both of those things to happen. I hope you had a wonderful Christmas and that 2014 brings you much joy!