Christmas is not a traditional holiday in Djibouti, a Muslim nation. However, people are free to celebrate their faith as they feel led, and Christmas is becoming increasingly popular. The religious part of the holiday is left to Christians, but some Muslims give gifts, set up trees, enjoy an extra day off. This is similar to how Christians enjoy a day off, a feast of goat meat, and the giving of new clothes on Islamic Eid holidays.
Even with the larger community celebrating, even with chocolate Santas appearing in grocery stores, even with Christmas songs sometimes playing on the radio, and even though the winter is the coolest season of the year, Christmas in Djibouti is very different from Christmas in Minnesota.
Of course there are cookies and songs, there are snowflakes cut from white paper, there are stories of the Nativity, and there is the building of memories and community. All of it partly to fill in the holes of loneliness for missing family during this season, and all of it is partly to build a foundation for our own family, and all of it is to celebrate and honor the God we believe in and are grateful to.
Here is a light-hearted take on the poem ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas, not to make light of the season or the distance from family, but to add to the light and to lessen the distance.