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We are not going to South Africa for Christmas.

I won't have celebrations with loud family members, laughing, dancing and eating. I won't eat prawns on the beach in Mozambique or wake up early for a morning drive in the Kruger National Park in Mpumalanga, searching for just one glimpse of a lion or elephant. I won't go for coffee in Mug and Bean with friends or shop at Woolies. Thank you, Omicron.

However, I will remember what I did this past year. On January 31, 2021, I celebrated 23 years of marriage to my best friend and soulmate. During the Hight of Covid, we stayed home, enjoyed BBQ, and watched television together. We reflected on twenty-three years of love, family, ministry, loss, travelling, change and disagreements, make-ups and everything in between.

On May 28, we celebrated my eldest, Tsakani, 21st Birthday. We went to Branson, Missouri, where we enjoyed the theme parks, live shows and sweet moments. We celebrated her growth and life. During the Olivet homecoming, we got to see her through the eyes of her friends and teachers and co-workers. We were impressed and filled with thanksgiving.

On August 23, we celebrated Emanuel's 18th birthday. We ate Brazilian churrasco, watched him shriek with joyful surprise at the gift we got him and revelled in the man he is becoming. We lamented in the joy of his senior year but were comforted by his courage, responsibility and empathy. We believe God has great things in store for him.

This year I wrestled with the things that scared me. I worked on my PhD, put up my website, started blogging, wrote devotionals and articles, and started running (that lasted for about a month). I had long WhatsApp chats with family in Africa. I shared meals with friends who are now my family. I preached the good news at revivals and conferences, met terrific people in exciting places, sang along during a Lauren Daigle concert and danced with teenagers at a Maverick concert. By the way, there is nothing like a Maverick concert to make you feel your age. This year I lost 15 pounds with great sweat and tears, but unfortunately, most of them found me with the greatest of ease. I am alive.

So, with these little miracles in mind, I can look forward to Christmas in Kansas with anticipation and joy. I look forward to baking cookies, driving out to see the lights, playing games and watching old classics together. I will cherish this Christmas in my heart as I anticipate the new beginnings of 2022. Tsakani will do her master's degree in Manchester, England, Emanuel will go to University, and the two of us will be empty nesters.

Ecc 3:12 -13 says

there is nothing better for people than being happy and doing good while living. That they may eat and drink and find satisfaction in all their toil- this is a gift from God.

This is my Christmas resolution, to enjoy all the gifts from God because they are gifts. The best gift is, of course, Emmanuel, God with us. May his presence fill you with love, hope, joy and peace as you celebrate this Christmas.

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