And I love the tropical sun when I'm on a speed boat in the middle of the Indian Ocean.
But other than that, I really miss having seasons.
It's probably one of the things I miss the most while living in Tanzania. And it always hits me the hardest at Christmastime.
I really, really wish I could embrace this tropical Christmas thing. And of course, the celebration of the Incarnation has nothing to do with the weather. But that marvelous feel of Christmas? Just doesn't exist here.
The temperature these days is near 100 degrees. With 96% humidity. And it doesn't get much better at night. My entire body feels sticky. The last thing I want anyone to do is to touch me.
Kind of makes that Christmasy, blankets-and-hot-cocoa, cozy feeling a little impossible.
I love Christmas music like the next person, but with all their talk of sleigh bells and winter wonderlands and open fires, it doesn't really help my mood. This really is the time of year I get most homesick. Grandchildren separated from grandparents doesn't help either.
But we try. To feel Christmasy, that is. And sometimes, you just have to laugh.
Last week, the secondary school held their annual Christmas program on a Thursday night. The music was beautiful. The music teachers outdid themselves.
Paper snowflakes hung delicately over the stage. And when they turned the overhead lights on, the flying termites came out in swarms. It almost looked like snow. Almost.
Sweat dripped down our backs. The power went out during one of the skits, and they had to just continue by yelling their lines really loud until someone could get the generator on.
The students were told to wear white and black. And since you can't just head out to Walmart to pick up a white blouse, that meant that some of the "white and black" attire was rather interesting.
But they did all their own accompaniments. I was so proud of them.
And they all sang, really loud. Even the 8th grade boys. Which is kind of a Christmas miracle.
And everyone brought food, clothes, and toys that night, which was all then presented to the manager of a local orphanage by my friend Lauren. That's HOPAC's true Christmas spirit.
The nice thing is, that all of this makes no difference to my kids. And I know that's true, because some of my best Christmas memories are the ones my family spent in Liberia when I was a kid. So this week, we are having a family water balloon fight since we can't have a snow ball fight. And taking a bath with green and red ice cubes. We'll have a sleepover in the living room. We're having a Christmas Eve BBQ with our church. I did try super hard to find a true "Tanzanian" Christmas tree this year, but the only "natural" one I found that was big enough cost $200. I decided our plastic tree wasn't so bad after all.
We can't light candles because the fans will blow them out. We don't have a fireplace for our stockings. We certainly won't be getting cozy. But we're creating memories just the same.
And now I'm off to bake gingerbread, since tomorrow we have friends coming over for a gingerbread house party. Except the molasses was too expensive, so I used date syrup instead. So we'll have a kind of middle-eastern flavored gingerbread.
Seems appropriate, don't you think?