I wake to the village roosters echoing their morning cry up and down the street. They never stop crowing, really. Or if they do, its for only an hour at 2am. But the cock-a-doodle-doos are more prolific in the wee hours of the morning.
At 5am the streets are already populated. A boat chugs by, its engine’s thump-thump-thump a sharp harmony to the roosters. A bicycle brakes, desperately trying to avoid the dog that’s run out in the road. Its brakes are worn, unoiled. A dog yelps. A child laughs. A motorcycle accelerates across the bridge, its worn tires rhythmically hitting the uneven planks. The morning routine is starting to sound like an orchestrated concert.
I rolled over, trying to remember the day. Its not easy. All these days in a foreign land have run together. I’ve settled into a routine: a routine of non-routine. It could be Christmas Day for all I’d know.
I paused. Thinking.
Well well. Its Christmas Eve.
Instead of Christmas lights and nativity scenes and hot chocolate and comfort food, its a day of palm trees and motorbikes and coconut milk and chicken soup (with the feet, of course; toenails are the delicacy of the day).
The rhythm of the morning is suddenly meaningful, a loud reminder that I’m in a foreign land to celebrate the birth of my Savior. I might not be in my comfort zone with family surrounding me and favorite foods to eat, but neither was He – all those years ago. I get motorcycles and roosters and diesel tug boats, He woke to cattle and sheep and shepherds.
I might not find any of this normal, and maybe its even a little odd, and part of me desperately longs to go home. But that’s what is going to make this the most amazing Christmas ever. In a very small but very tangible way, this is what Christmas morning is all about.