But this year we're experiencing a very different kind of December on Hvar in Croatia.
With the sun shining most days here in December, we're soaking in the warmth and fresh sea air, enjoying the flowers that are still blooming and the fruit growing on the trees here.
If you are someone who grew up in California or Florida, it was probably fairly normal to be able to go out and pick a fresh orange, if not at your house then maybe at your grandparent's or a neighbor's house.
But for this Oregonian girl (me) and this Czech girl (Claire!), it feels quite special to have our own oranges to pick, especially in December!
Granted, we only have six oranges on the tree, but still! It's pretty amazing.
(Those are mandarin oranges and kumquats behind Claire...which are ripening, but not ready yet.)
Four years ago when we and the other three families began to build this house as a summer rental investment and place for our families to come in the off season, we all agreed that we wanted fruit trees somewhere on the property.
We're so thankful to get to be here right now to enjoy the first fruits of those trees.
Another must on the property, given its location on Hvar, was an olive tree.
You can't drive far here without seeing olive trees - they are everywhere! Sources say they've been here for at least 1500 years, if not longer. Many of those trees produce beautiful oils that taste quite different from what you buy in the grocery store.
While I'd love to have a grove of them and make my own oil, that's not practical! So we have a non producing olive tree as a happy nod to all of those producing trees on the island. I'll gladly buy their olive oil and enjoy the fruits of their labors.
While out driving the other day, Claire noticed someone else's olive tree decorated for Christmas.
We happily followed their tradition.
I don't know why but it was such a thrill to place those little golden balls on our tree, bought at the grocery store just a few hours earlier!
Claire and I had so much fun bringing a little Christmas cheer into the outdoors!
|Thanks Claire for the use of your camera and for taking some of these fun photos!|
Soon we'll be reading the Christmas story, pondering anew the incredibleness of Jesus coming as a baby to live among man. How I love him, for so many reasons, but one of them being his humanity.
While fully God, he was fully man too which brings him so close to me. He is not some distant, remote or removed god who doesn't understand. He is THE God who understands everything about me and my life here. Truly, I'm thankful and love him for that.
Getting to be here in a warm, dry climate this Christmas bring the reality of Jesus all the more near as I think of him being born in that stable in a middle eastern setting, a warm, dry climate there as well.
Preparing to celebrate Jesus here on Hvar is proving to be so very sweet, meaningful and precious.