Standing in the grocery store, we’re trying to remember if
we really have everything we need to get through this week before our Christmas
travels. Breakfasts… lunch supplies… dinner… snacks for the car… I’m running
through the lists in my head.
Anything we need for our trip? For Christmas? “Hey,” I tell
my husband. “We should call the Mexican restaurant in my parents’ town and see
if they can tell us where to get tamales this year.”
Our last Christmas in Kentucky, we searched fruitlessly,
basically just driving around the Latino community of the nearest city and
popping into convenient stores with Spanish names. No luck.
There’s really no such thing as “coming home” for the
multicultural family. I feel most aware of this at Christmas.
We’re constantly merging celebratory traditions from our own
backgrounds. But in reality, we’ve created our own third culture, unique to our
family. This process is quite common for those who transition cultures. (You can read a great, pictorial description here.)
Fireworks at midnight are a big part of Billy’s experience,
but you know… illegal where we live. So every Christmas Eve, we bust out
sparklers about 7pm and call it a night.
I love stockings, so those are hung each year by the fake
fireplace with care. (In fact, this year they were about the only decorations
that made it out of the storage bins.)
And as we celebrate our seventh Christmas together, I’m
realizing tamales are now part of my expectation and our family’s tradition.
When I think of coming home for Christmas, I am in a constant state of
not-quite-fitting-in, but also fitting into several cultures in my own, little
I am thankful that these cross-cultural experiences draw me
closer to Jesus. Because I feel like Jesus probably understands this awkward
state fitting in, but not fitting in.
As he arrived in this world, he was fully man, but totally
not. He engaged in the traditions of his Jewish surroundings, but also turned
them on end with the reality of his being fully God as well.
There’s something comforting as I reflect on the arrival of
the culture-jumping Christ child. (Although when I write it like that, the
image in my head is a little more “Beam me up, Scotty” than “May I see your
I feel relief at welcoming a God who says, “I’ll see your global
Christmas and raise you one ‘this world is not my home.’” The experience of God
is big enough. His arrival in a manger can encompass all the backgrounds we
carry and welcome us in beloved community to experience the supernatural