Merry Ethiopian Christmas!
You may think that I am a bit late in wishing you a Merry Christmas, but in Ethiopia it just happens to be Christmas today, or, as we call it, Genna.
Genna celebrates the same birth of our Lord Jesus Christ, but Ethiopia goes by the Julian calendar, which is why they are seven years behind and significant dates do not always correspond to ours Thankfully, in Bahir Dar the western world has not yet influenced this occasion to focus on commercialism. Rather, Genna is a holy time, centred around the greatest gift ever given: Jesus. It is celebrated with family and friends, a time of food, dancing and singing church songs. Traditionally, gifts aren’t given at Genna, the time spent remembering the importance of the occasion and in times of celebration with family. Most people will also have been partaking in a vegan fast for the forty days leading up to Genna, and a strict fast for the day immediately before, so the feasting for Christmas is made all the more exuberant!
I felt that it was rather appropriate timing, as our family is not able to spend Genna with loved ones in Ethiopia, that we have come to adoption camp. This enables my Ethiopian born twins to spend time with other Ethiopian adopted kids, as well as other children adopted to Australia from around the world. Here, at this time, although we don’t celebrate Ethiopian Christmas, we do celebrate our families coming together through adoption. Here, our children find belonging in each other. They don’t have to explain to other kids or curious bystanders why they are a different colour to their parents, or feel like they don’t fit. Even our bio children have shared that they feel normal here, that they are understood without having to say a word.
The timing of this, and thus my own reflection on Christmas and adoption, has led me to tie the two into insights and a reminder of this seasons significance. The reason God did what he did–sent his son to the world to be born as man, then to die a painful death and to live again—was all about adoption, our adoption. We needed to have relationship with him, adopted into his family. He created the first Christmas. He first formed the concept of adoption to provide forever family and belonging.
I look at my kids, and they may have a history of heartache, but they are not alone to walk their journey. Neither are we.
During this season of Christmas, New Year and Genna, my heart is filled with deep gratitude for all that the Father has giving for me, and to me. At Grace, I am thankful for the children that were reunified with their families and for the children who found new forever families, for children in foster care who have loving homes who are still believing for their happy endings, for all the mothers and children at Grace who have their second chance. I am so grateful.
I am grateful to you also, who continue to pray and support Grace and are making a real difference to people’s lives. Thank you.
Melkam Genna…. Merry Christmas.
Love, Dee xxx