Purple Trees and the Meaning of Christmas

Life overseas during the holiday season isn’t easy. We miss family and snow and eggnog and those little Christmas nougat candies and a million other small traditions that, for years, made Christmas … Christmas. As I sip a cold beverage to ease my thirst and seek some reprieve from the heat and humidity of Indonesia, I struggle to wrap my mind around the fact that it is, indeed, December. Out of sheer stubbornness I keep the Christmas music playing and the Christmas cookies baking, hoping that at some point I’ll stop feeling like I’m trying to have Christmas in July.
Mission Aviation Fellowship Missionary Cannon Family celebrates Christmas in Indonesia
But around town, I find signs of Christmas. Others are setting out their Christmas trees, playing (oftentimes really horrible) Christmas music too loud, and doing their best to have the greatest Christmas program in town. There is a huge purple Christmas tree at the “mall” in town. It’s a monstrosity, really, but my girls can’t get over the wonder of a purple tree. In my favorite grocery store they’ve set up a contraption that “snows” on the Christmas tree––it’s as ugly as anything I’ve ever seen, but I find I’m just as enthralled as the rest of the crowd that gathers to watch the spraying Styrofoam balls. Snow!

We’re far from home and everything is strange here. Truly, most of the Christmas decorations are just plain ghastly and the Christmas traditions here often seem a downright sacrilege––like my friend’s church selling dog meat to help raise money for their Christmas program. But the Christmas traditions here are a miracle, if a bit strange to me. It wasn’t that long ago that, in this very part of the world, the Truth of Emmanuel, God-with-us, was completely unheard of. Indeed, many still haven’t heard the truth behind the celebrations and decorations of Christmas. Both here and back home in America, many have yet to meet this Jesus that we celebrate.

You and I know that Christmas really isn’t about a pretty Christmas tree––or a very ugly purple one. It isn’t about Christmas candy or snow or being with family. It’s about the birth of a Redeemer. My prayer is that those who don’t know the true meaning of Christmas will somehow see it in the midst of all the traditions and busyness of this time of year. May Christ be glorified all around the world this Christmas season!

“For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” — Luke 2:11

Learn more about the Cannon family and their life in Indonesia serving with Mission Aviation Fellowship.

1 Comment

  • Bob Shank says:

    To the Cannon family:
    In all we do or experience, praise our Heavenly Father. If he watches over every sparrow, rest assured he watches over you!
    Our blessings and prayers from Tucson, AZ.
    ~Bob & Sandie Shank, MAF supporters

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