It seems unreal, but I’ve spent seven Christmases in Florida. Our first Christmas after we immigrated to the United States our family spent divided in half. By the way, this is the first time I’ve used the word “immigrated” in connection with our move to this country. I just realized that is what we did. Now I am an American and have been for fifteen some years.
Back to Florida. Because of our daughter Eva-Marie’s health condition my husband went with her to Sweden for medical care. We had no health insurance here and could still use our Swedish status. Carina and I were gracefully invited to spend Christmas with two of our new friends: my “boss” Charles Stewart and his family and a missionary family that has become very dear over the years, Harold and Betty Calkins. If I’m not mistaken, we saved the presents to open them when the other half of the family came home in the new year.
Our second Christmas in the United States we were divided once more. This time our girls were in South America with my parents. My husband and I traveled to Northern Florida, to spend it with our first friends in the USA, at the Northern Florida Christian Center. It was bitter cold! That year we had the experience of snow in Florida. We arrived on Christmas Eve like two icicles! My parents had a mobile home there–they divided their time between Florida and Peru–and something was wrong with the heating system, so my husband and I spent the night by the fireplace trying to stay warm. Later someone helped us get the problem fixed.
Here is a peek in through our window from a Christmas when we were better established in our new homeland!
One of my favorite things in Florida was the little “before Christmas” party we would have at our Swedish friend’s house, the Persons. Gerd and I both worked at Life Publishers. She is the most awesome cook and she made us Swedish treats. Every Christmas I wish myself back to Florida, if only to have a little taste of her good food. We still keep in touch. Maybe one of these Christmases I’ll “have some fun” and go to Florida!
I wasn’t paying attention to my choice of words when I said that one time, because I spend Christmases with my daughter and her family. “Isn’t it fun to be with us?” they wondered. Sure it is, but it would also be fun to go back to Florida one more time.
We had another tradition in Florida. Gerd and her family came to us for First Advent. That is a Swedish tradition, starting the fourth Sunday before Christmas and awaiting the arrival of Christmas.
I will not bore you with my memories of Florida, but it sure sounds good in the winter cold to think of Florida, but not the Florida of 1989, when it was freezing cold!
Those first years in our new homeland were hard years. I was the only one that had a work permit and we had to live four adults on my pay-check. But the Lord saw us through. His promise to never leave us nor forsake us stands firm.
Once again it’s Christmas. I thanks God for his gift of Jesus that came wrapped in love. May you rejoice in memories from Christmases past but most of all look forward to the future, to the glorious day when there will be no more celebrations on earth, but the most glorious and eternal celebration. The “party” that will never end!
For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the greatness of his government and peace
there will be no end.
He will reign on David’s throne
and over his kingdom,
establishing and upholding it
with justice and righteousness
from that time on and forever.
The zeal of the Lord Almighty
will accomplish this.