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.