It hasn’t seemed like the Christmas season at all here in Zambia. It’s hot for one thing, there’s not an embroidered reindeer sweatshirt in sight, and there are no Christmas tree farms or lots with wreaths. The stores do put up some plastic trees and decorations but that’s it. There’s not a single house with lights on it and no eggnog in the store. No nativities outside the churches or inspirational Christmas messages. How’s one even supposed to know it’s Christmas?
By the day we left for the U.S., December 22nd, I hadn’t bought a single Christmas present, addressed a single Christmas card, or hung a single Christmas decoration. I did play my favorite David Lanz Christmas CD but it seemed out of place sweating to it as I cooked in my 90 degree kitchen.
But, I knew that once we stepped onto the plane we would journey in to the Christmas spirit. Our routing was Lusaka (2 hours) -> Johannesburg (~11 hours) -> London (11 hours) -> Phoenix -> Wickenburg (where my mom lives). On top of the flight times we had a 6 hour layover in Jo’burg and an 8 hour layover at London Heathrow. There’s no place like Christmas in London so I knew that 8 hours there would transform us into cheery little elves and I was actually looking forward to the long layover. Plus, our layover was in Heathrow’s terminal 5, which is like a great big (super expensive) U.S. shopping mall, with all of the over-the-top decorations, dressed-up stores clerks and music.
We left our home in Lusaka about 3.30 am EDT and arrived in Wickenburg, Arizona, at about 11.30 pm the next day. Forty-four hours of travel!
London did not disappoint — the 40 foot high Christmas tree, oversized ornaments, decorations at every turn, cheerful Christmas music and people wearing Santa’s hats were great. It made me realize how embedded in my culture I am and how much I enjoy and miss all of this stuff. I can hear some of you saying it’s so materialistic, it’s so commercial, etc., etc. Sure it is, in some stores and some homes, but in most of the homes I know there are green garlands, ornaments aged 0-100 years, baked goodies, stockings bought when the children were babies, and Christmas tunes coming from the radio. Not over the top by any means — just a joyful reflection of tradition, family and good times shared.
Then, on Christmas day we journeyed up to Sedona (Arizona), with its magical red rocks. One of the local resorts (Los Abrigados) had a Christmas light contest with more than 40 different themed displays. It was wonderful!
This was my favorite display, called “Angels we have heard on high.”
My next favorite was a Frieda Kahlo Mexican-themed display.
I loved the javelina sculpture garden. (When our kids were little and they’d run up the stairs from the basement for meals, we’d always say, “here come the little javelinas.”)
It was cold (like 30 degrees F) but not as “cold” as I thought it would be, coming from hot and humid weather.
Have I mentioned how much I love animals? (Even plywood cut-outs.)