Monday, January 5, 2009

Christmas across the pond

To all who read this, I hope your Christmas celebrations were richly blessed.  Ours certainly were and since I would be remiss were I not to have a Christmas post on a blog like this, I’d like to share with you about our Scottish Christmas.

This was our first Christmas away from family back in the Midwest, which initially seemed as if it would be difficult.  Who wants to be all alone on Christmas, sad and depressed from the lack of daylight (we are much farther north than you might think)?  Thankfully, and despite the darkness, we were neither alone, sad or depressed.  

Christmas Eve we exchanged our gifts to each other (more on that later) then went to a midnight service at a church in town.  It was quite packed as we sang carols and heard Scripture readings.  The service started at 11:20 or so and was coordinated so that the town bells chimed midnight during a moment of silence, followed by a rejoicing choir song proclaiming “He is born!”  The whole experience was very edifying. 

Christmas morning we went to a service at the church where we regularly attend; that morning was aimed more toward the children of the congregation, although we did sing several carols.  There was a gospel lesson for the kids about the meaning of Christmas, and then the children brought the gifts they had opened that morning and shared about them.  Two observations are in order: 1. Kids that are very loud and never seem to stop talking have a strange way of freezing up when a microphone is put in front of them; 2. I should have invested in any and every company involved with the merchandizing of Hannah Montana and High School Musical.

From there we joined our friends at their house for lunch, which was a wonderful and enjoyable time.  These friends have taken great care of us since we have been here; from driving us to pick up a free futon to watching our dog while we were in London, they have been helpful and supportive in ways beyond what we could have ever imagined.  Having people like this in our lives is a manifestation of God’s provision for us and is an example of how the we should care for each other in the church.

After lunch we made our way back into town for a potluck dinner with other non-traveling post-grad families from the divinity school at St Andrews.  There were about 35-40 people there and I suspect the kids nearly outnumbered the adults.  It was a great time with friends and copious amounts of amazing food.

Here are some Christmas pictures from St Andrews cathedral ruins.

By the way, the purple scarf is the official scarf of St Marys, the divinity school at St Andrews (this was Sara's Christmas gift to me).

I am particularly bad at giving gifts.  Unless you send me a link so I can click on it and order the item for you, chances are any gift you might receive from me will be disappointing.  The Christmas when Sara and I were engaged, when a romantic gift would have been highly appropriate, I got her a memory upgrade for her computer (she was constantly struggling with how slow it was!).  If you only consider Christmases and Sara’s birthdays, I am 2 for 17.  I have given 2 good gifts and 15 lame ones.  If you throw in Valentine’s Days and our anniversaries, I’m sure my record would be even worse—as if a batting percentage of .133 wasn’t bad enough!  

I mention all this because this Christmas was one of my rare good gifts: I surprised Sara with a sightseeing trip to London to see the musical Les Miserables.  She loves the story, has read the book, and is borderline addicted to the music from the musical (and I must confess I have joined her in this addiction in the last few weeks), so I planned and arranged a budget 3-night trip to London between Christmas and New Years.

We saw as much of London as could be expected in just a few days and found the city to be very enjoyable.  I’ll spare you the full details but highlights of our trip include St Paul’s Cathedral, the Tower of London, and dinner at what is apparently the only authentic Mexican restaurant in the UK.  And of course, Les Mis.  We saw it on the last night of our visit and we both agreed that if we had another night we would have seen it again.  Here are some pictures from our trip:

If you’d like to see more pictures of our trip, you can find them here: