The sun rises high over the valley in early December, and I watch the sunlight catch the tips of the gumtrees from my kitchen window. I crack the window to feel the breeze, but instead I get an earful of cicada song that will continue loud until dusk.
Summer is my Christmas season. We wait in joyful hope for our Saviour but it doesn’t look at all like the snowy scenes on the cards we exchange. The world seems full to the brim with sleigh bells and mistletoe — and we sing those songs too – but they’re upside down to us. I realise it is almost comical at the local department store – catch myself humming along about a White Christmas whilst really I’m there to hide from the encroaching heat and also finish my shopping list.
We do the normal thing and light candles during dinner to signal His coming, but there is no darkness outside our home, and won’t be for a few hours yet. We rescue Christmas beetles who have crept inside and return them to the grass and decorate the Christmas tree under the cool breeze of the air conditioner. I hide chocolate countdown calendars in dark, cool spaces of the house to prevent melting. We pack beach bags and head for saltwater. We carol on the grass, in t-shirts and shorts, adorned in glow-sticks. Our children drag steaming feet in scuffed black school shoes to the last weeks of classes for the year, eager for the six long stretched-out holiday weeks that await them.
I wipe sticky hands adorned with icy-pole goo. The chickens in the yard move from shaded corner to shady patch as the sun crosses over them. We plan festive meals of cold meats and salads for the twenty-fifth. Rain showers arrive to be played in and are best enjoyed on the trampoline. Sand is routinely walked through the house, and long bright evenings stretch to embrace us.
My southern hemisphere Advent helps me to remember the unfathomable thing God did at Christmas. Jesus comes to us. He comes to us a baby. We are forever in awe of this picture, this ultimate humbling. We expect grandeur, pomp and ceremony. At first glance, what takes place here looks like inescapable smallness.
It’s those who keep watching who unwrap the greater gift of all God is doing in this simple birth.
Each part a gift in its own right: this is the Christmas season that I love. Reminders of a God who does the unthinkable, who stepped right in and turned my life upside down with grace.
This summer Christmas helps me feel my discomfort, my exhaustion — my ultimate need for something, someone, outside of myself.
We are waiting, all of us, and we get to experience yet again that He has come, right down to us so we could have all of Him for all of time. What a gift, no matter how it’s wrapped — with snow and mittens or with sunshine and sand.Leave a Comment
Michele Morin says
I am so enriched by this description of your summer hemisphere Christmas! I have a friend in Australia, and I often think of the fact that so much of the world is oriented toward expressing life in terms of Northern Hemisphere living. I’m thankful for this reminder that Jesus came so that both hemispheres could know the glory of “God and sinners reconciled.”
I definitely have a confused preschooler this year, wondering when the snow will come that’s mentioned in a lot of the songs he’s hearing! 😉
I’m so thankful to know the God who came for all of us!
Bev @ Walking Well With God says
Advent greetings to you down under! I would think that would be strange preparing for the birth of Christ when it’s 90 outside. But, you know, nothing about Christ’s coming is what we would expect. We expected a king riding in on a valiant horse. He came as a helpless babe in the manger. We expected that this king would be loved and adored (He was to be our rescuer after all). Instead, he had a ransom on his infant head. Everything about Jesus is upside down. We want revenge. He says offer grace and forgiveness. We want to be first. He says that the first among you will be last and the last, first. His royal lineage includes prostitutes. Everything about this picture screams, “Wrong”, but everything that He IS is so right. Maybe here in the States we get too caught up in the trappings, but you get to see Christ’s birth for the unfathomable, upside down, miracle of mercy that it is. Thank you for sharing this wonderful perspective!
“Everything that He IS is so right” – so true Bev!
Yes! We live in Florida and I can relate to so much of your experience! Im “that” mom who bribed my kids to wear long sleeved shirts for our Christmas photo (it was 80 degrees). Tonight we are heading to our annual light parade with our cooler and flip flops. My kids have yet to experience snow! We hang stockings down our hallway because we don’t have a fireplace. So much of our world seems so “off” to the pictures I see all over Facebook. But I love being different. I love how Christ’s coming unites all of our differences. Upside down to one is inside-out to another. To Him, He sees only His children with cookie frosting smeared all over our face. Come, oh come Immanuel!
Yes! Unity and joy in Christ’s coming!
The long-sleeved Christmas photo made me chuckle 😉
Lisa McNair says
I understand what you are talking about- I live in South Africa, so we too have the rose beetles, the cicadas, the long sunny days, the heat, the rain. And as we call it here, the braai’s ( barbecue) , swimming in the pool, and sitting around chatting to friends in the wonderful warm weather. And yet the reason for the season is the same- our joy and gratitude at what our Father did fo
r us all in reconciling us to Himself.
So true Lisa! Love all of those signs of Christmas-time 🙂
Thank you for sharing your gift, Em! Scruffy West Texas… His glory in all things!
Amen! Thanks for reading 🙂
If we focused on our surroundings, without giving regard, that Christmas will come no matter where or who we are, than we wouldn’t be focused on the true meaning. Thank-you Em for the reminder, Christmas is not about us, it’s about celebrating the birth of our Lord.
Blessings to all,
That’s so true Penny. We started singing carols in church this weekend (we sing some the whole month and I love it) – I think “the thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices” will be resounding in my soul all week.
Beth Williams says
I get your upside down Christmas. I lived in Florida for twenty years. Jesus came in an upside down way. He challenged & changed the thinking of many. He came to unite the high holy ones with the lost sinners. I believe the world has Christmas all wrong. We think it has to do with gifts, trees, Santa, etc. It really is about a savior born in a lowly manger. We have lost the true meaning of this season. I say we all unite no matter how we celebrate Christmas-in snow or on sandy beaches. All that matters is that we all celebrate the birth of our savior & Lord.
So true, Beth. He came! There is nothing better to celebrate together!
Pearl Allard says
Em, I loved reading your description of preparing for Christmas in the summer season! Thank you for broadening thr perspective of a girl stuck in the winter season at Christmas. 🙂
Thanks for reading along Pearl! Here’s to finding His joy in our opposite seasons 😉
Rebecca L Jones says
It is warm in Ga. too, last year I had on shorts for Christmas, little cooler this year. I sent an Aussie friend on of those upside down Christmas trees. Strange to me, it’s supposed to children and pets off it. I never had pets to bother it. Children definitely need to learn the word ” No. ” You can’t hang everything for from the ceiling.
Hehe! I haven’t heard of an upside down tree before! 🙂
Birdie Cutair says
That is so interesting – at least too experience an upside down Christmas from your comments. It does not usually snow here in Maryland for Christmas, but it definitely gets cold. I have heard of an upside down Christmas tree. The ladies in one of the churches here always hung one upside down in the Parish House (Sunday School lobby). I’m not sure why they did it that way. Someone said that it was a custom!