Did anyone else spare a little suitcase space to tuck in some poultry seasoning or pumpkin pie spice, for such a time as this?
Holidays are strongly connected to food for me.
Can you call it Easter without ham, deviled eggs (with traces of dye on the whites), and a chocolate bunny Grandma hid somewhere in the living room? Fourth of July is not complete without a small paper plate with a square of pretzel Jell-O salad. It’s not really Christmas Eve without my mom’s cocktail meatballs, simmering in a mixture of grape jelly and chili sauce. Christmas morning’s breakfast doesn’t feel right without the apple and cranberry cider in a fragile mug with a Christmas tree, the scent of cinnamon and cloves filling the air.
And Thanksgiving. It must have my sister-in-law’s green bean casserole (which she always makes, yet doesn’t eat), Mom’s homemade stuffing cooked inside the turkey, and a slice of apple pie…and pumpkin pie too. With whip cream, of course.
I love the food of holidays. I think a big reason they seem so special is because, though we could, we rarely prepare these designated special-occasion-foods at other times of the year. So when we slide that fork out of our mouths, we savor that flavor. When we see children abandoning their plates and going back to the games in the basement, we can’t imagine how they would rush through such a meal.
This can be one aspect of life abroad that is especially challenging: being away during the special days, the family, and the iconic meals.
Some dishes we may be able to replicate in the places we currently live. Others we intentionally plan for when we are packing and weighing our luggage, months before we need those precious ingredients. However, some we have to be content to savor in our recollections and hopes that one of these years we will plan our trip around the holiday so we can indulge in our aunt’s candied sweet potatoes with the marshmallows on top, yet again.
We savor the tastes and their memories because we want them to last.
We also savor moments. We don’t want to let go of the season of life where our toddlers think we are the greatest people to tower over them. We treasure that our ever-growing boys still want to crawl in our laps and exchange big bear hugs. We wish we could bottle up the evening chats with our teenage daughter who actually wants to share what she’s thinking and dreaming about. We take the pictures and write the journal entries so we can keep a piece of these special times, clinging to the delight they give us.
Do you ever wonder what Jesus savored during his 33 ½ years on earth? Surely there was a special dish his mother prepared for Passover every year that he couldn’t wait to taste. Maybe he relished the late-night conversations with his beloved friend John. Perhaps he clung to childhood songs he sang in the temple when he was young, and when he heard children singing in the crowds as he walked by it caused him to linger.
What about your relationship with God causes you to linger? Do you savor your time reading and studying God’s Word, as if eating a slice of pecan pie, scraping up every last morsel? Is it times of prayer, genuine conversation with your Heavenly Father that you cling to? Maybe you savor moments of worshipping Him in song.
Or do you find yourself in a season when that time with Him is not as sweet as it once was? Does it feel as if you are having a holiday meal, without the platters and crockpots on the table that make it a special meal? Has your time with God lost its significance somehow?
If so, I invite you to break out those special spices you’ve stashed away. It’s time to open them up and taste and see that the LORD is good; [for] blessed is the one who takes refuge in him. Psalm 43:8
If you are like me, you probably already know what you are longing for, what you need to taste. You are just having a hard time rolling up your sleeves and getting yourself out of the rut you find yourself in. But the little extra effort is so worth it. And once you get back into the discipline that you love–whether reading, praying, singing, journaling, or whatever–you will remember why it is nourishment to your soul. Enjoy it. Savor it.
It could be that you are not in a dry season, but indeed have been delighting in your Savior and your time with Him. May He continue to refresh you with the sweetness of your relationship, allowing you to relish each day in His presence, pointing others to the same.
What special dishes do you love to prepare and/or eat for the holidays? What parts of the holidays have been able to keep as part of the tradition while in your host country? What about your relationship with God do you savor? What helps you to keep those disciplines a regular part of your life while living abroad?