at home with christmas (8.28pm)


growing up i spent my early days in the village. barefoot and usually shirtless until i was eight or nine. we had what we needed for four to six months at a time. with the help of correspondence planned out by tireless teachers and a weekly short wave radio time slot to check in, school was wherever we were.


and in the middle of coconut trees and sago palms, rain tanks and mosquito nets. we celebrated christmas.


when we were little, my mum made a tree from branches and twigs. she wired, glued. with hands that always make something from nothing.  we only had red yarn, but she painstakingly wrapped every inch of that tree in it to give birth to color.  we cut out cardboard stars and circles with pencil outlined cookie cutter shapes. then wrapped  in precious aluminum foil to bring bright.  no lights.  just simple child-like ornaments hanging from red yarn wrapped sticks and twigs.

on christmas morning the tree would appear on a small round table and before we opened windows to sunlight and passerby—-we would open three or four heart-given, sometimes hand-made presents.

starting in 6th grade, schooling ruled that kurt and i be at ukarumpa during the term.   at the start of christmas break —our longest—we would pack.  climb aboard a cessna 206, taking flight for reunion.


the village was home, but as i got older, christmas began to feel like away.

away from people more important than what i knew important to be.

away from time that felt like it would never be returned.

away from in the middle of goings on.

away from the seven foot artificial tree that was cardboard boxed in crawl space above our lives in ukarumpa.


i only heard about it. i never saw it in seventeen years of growing up.  it was a going to happen if we ever—-but we never. i thought about it every christmas.  it was this symbol of a truly worthwhile christmas. what i could have had. what i should have had. what was missing.


for twenty years i have been learning to be at home.

  • in a country that sometimes still seems  far from where my heart and skin feel belonging.
  • with my choosing to be wife and mother. all the way.
  • with where i haven’t gone and what i haven’t done.

i am finding peace in the middle of the learned.

there is no missing. there is enough. and when i decide important, i sometimes miss the truly.

that red yarn wrapped sticks and twigs can hold the beauty and glory of  here and now

while they were there, the days were completed for her to give birth. and she gave birth to her firstborn son; and she wrapped him in cloths, and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

luke 2:6-7 (NASB)



12 thoughts on “at home with christmas (8.28pm)

  1. Lovely. Learning to be at home wherever we find ourselves and with whomever we have become by choice or by grace or maybe by both….

  2. *MUAH!* Thank you Kris for deceleration!!! Brought back so many memories and I find peace in the fact that there are so many of us out there who have experienced , who KNOW what Christmas is all about and that – if you do it right – there´s a little bit of Christmas inside all 365 days of the year!

  3. Beautiful, you speak in words of love and longing. Words that come from your grown up wife, mother heart. It is amazing how we can see and feel again those “sparkle” moments from long ago. I can picture the tree wrapped in red yarn…………bless the hands of my sister Lord for her love and care for her children. To do that midst the daily struggles of life without the stateside expected aides. Electric, running water, all those things. You have been implanted with the true gift of what Christmas is about. Love, sharing, sacrifice and most of all the celebration of the birth of the one who saves us from ourselves. Beautiful post Kris.

  4. Oh Kristi….it is so heart warming to hear you describe your remembrance of life in PNG….the little things that leave their mark in a big way in the memory of a child….because a child sees from their heart and with unlimited imagination. You brought to life again the memories that formed our ties to each other and to the country and people who opened their hearts to let us be a part of them.

  5. so often in life, we (okay, i) have missed the important and the anbundance of what i DO have because of the “what i could have had. what i should have had. what was missing.” thoughts crowding out everything else. you touched on something so simple, and yet i can speak from experience that so often we don’t see it. thanks for the reminder!

    • it’s something i really struggle with at christmas. each year i want to “escape” the season. but i am inconsistently learning to find the at home with it. learning to be comfortable in my western skin and 3rd world heart. i’m so glad you took something away from it! xo -k

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