As anyone who has spent any extended time overseas will tell you, holidays here look different. Not good, not bad, just different (well, sometimes good/bad). Holidays can be hard and amidst the daily cultural grind of live overseas, they are those once every few month reminders that you're no place like home.
And while it sounds like I'm complaining or having a cultural moment, I'm really not. It is always hard to have distance from friends, family and the familiar; however holidays tend to magnify those things. It takes time and energy, not unlike what you go through a newly married couple, to establish traditions of your own and find a rhythm to holidays.
Over the years I've celebrated some hard holidays. I remember back when I was single and living in China. On my first Christmas there I woke up to an empty apartment and everything outside was business as usual. I celebrated by riding my bike to the school (still in session) to check to see if I had any mail (I thankfully did). Or our first Thanksgiving here where we celebrated by taking a drive to a waterfall so that we wouldn't have to spend the entire day at home alone. There have also been some good holidays. There have been Fourth of July's celebrated with cookouts and fireworks with friends that are more like family. And just last year we had a fun and spontaneous Easter cookout with an egg hunt for toddlers.
This year we continued the tradition of our Easter cookout, although we moved it to Saturday night because it wouldn't be as hot as Sunday afternoon. We invited many of our expat friends and ended up having over 45 people (including 15 crazy kids) crammed into our house. It was a great time to celebrate together and enjoy some of the familiar, especially since we are all so far from our families.
On Sunday morning we traveled over an hour to the village where we grow coffee and celebrated Easter Sunday with the house church. Throughout this year, this small community of believers has become more and more of our church family here. Easter Sunday in the village definitely looks different than the Superbowl Service that is Easter in America. Children's church was led by me and consisted of chasing cows and throwing rocks in the pond. No one came in their new Easter dresses (although because of a cold front, one lady did wear a bath towel as a shawl). The sermon maybe lasted ten minutes. However many things were also familiar. We sang songs of the death and resurrection, heard a message about Christ rising from the dead, and also took communion. And while so many things like distance and culture can separate us, we were able to celebrate the one things that truly unites us: Christ's resurrection.
So it was a great Easter, albeit definitely different.