A few nights ago hubby and I went to a training with Spero Project, the refugee organization here in Oklahoma City. The training was called Restorative Relationships and focused on how our job is not to “save” the refugees but rather to become their neighbor. The discussion made me realize that I need to change my own perspective and reflect on the composition of a neighbor.
We moved to Oklahoma City just a year and half ago. The move was tough as we didn’t know anyone here. But in the midst of the challenges, there was our neighbor Lynda, who has showed me repetitively what being a neighbor really means. The night we moved in, she brought us dinner. When I was outside picking the pecans in our front yard, she came and joined me. She’s offered to watch Eleanor, asked if I needed anything from the grocery store, and we regularly meet for coffee. Lynda has never made me feel like she was “saving” me but rather that she has been in my shoes and knows that a little extra help would be nice. Personally, I feel like this kind of neighborliness is a dying art in the US. So often we don’t even know the names of our neighbors.
After watching the relationships within the refugee community, they also seem to get the meaning of neighbors. They watch out for each other’s kids, give each other rides to work, and always are ready to boil a pot of tea for a spur of the moment conversation. I think Spero has to do the Restorative Relationship training with us because in all honesty, the refugee community has a lot to teach us about being a neighbor. It is so often our tendency as Americans to walk in and try to fix things rather than to build relationships. We see an under-resourced community and forget that the community has so much to offer us as well.
Every year in Oklahoma City we get 165 new neighbors who are refugees from Myanmar, Iraq, Afghanistan, Eritrea, and several other countries. So as hubby and I get more involved with Spero, our hope is we can reach out to our new neighbors and make them feel as welcome as Lynda made me feel last year when we were new to town.
Have a great weekend and if you have a chance, try to meet your neighbors!
One of my least favorite activities of the year is taking down my Christmas decorations. I love the holidays, so putting everything back in the tupperware bins feels like such a downer compared to all the joy, family, and food that comes with Christmas. So last year when I heard about Día de los Reyes (also known as Three Kings Day or Epiphany) and the opportunity to extend my holidays a little longer, I knew I wanted to add the celebration to our family traditions.
Caspar, Melchior, and Balthasar are from my Aunt Ethel’s nativity set. They are some of my favorite Christmas decorations.
Held on January 6th, Día de los Reyes is officially the 12th day of Christmas. It celebrates the coming of the three wise men to worship the Christ child and give him the gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Three Kings Day is widely celebrated around the world, particularly in Latin American countries. In Argentina, children put grass and water outside the door for the wise men’s camels. In Mexico, the three wise men are added to the nativity scenes on the eve of Día de los Reyes. And in Peru, they actually make taking down the Christmas decorations on Día de los Reyes a celebration in itself and call it Bajada de Reyes (Descent of Kings).
To celebrate Día de los Reyes at our house, we will be doing our own Bajada de Reyes tonight. In addition to taking down the Christmas decorations, we’ll also enjoy a modified Three Kings Cake, sing We Three Kings, and exchange small gifts between us. But most of all, I hope to remember that the season doesn’t really have to end just because the decorations come down. While maybe we can’t eat like we did during the holidays, the joy of Christmas, family, and friendships are things I don’t have to pack up with the ornaments.
Tradition calls for a porcelain baby Jesus to be put in the Kings Cake but we are improvising and I’ve put a paper one in the bottom of one of the cupcakes. Whoever gets the baby Jesus is supposed to make tamales on Candlemas (Feb. 2nd).
Unfortunately the real Three Kings Cake takes hours to make so we modified our version. These cranberry cupcakes will serve as our individual Kings Cake for tonight.
Click here for more country-specific Three Kings Day traditions and check out these other Epiphany blog posts:
2013 was a momentous year in our family. We moved into a new home, our little girl, Eleanor Grace was born in August, and I started a new part-time position as a study abroad advisor at a small university in Oklahoma City. With all that was going on, I decided to take a year away from blogging. But now that I’m finally getting my little one on a schedule, I want to bring “globalness” back into our household. I’m sure my posts will be a little less regular than before, but I really want my daughter to be exposed to the world beyond our little city and for this blog to be a record of all we do together.
Eleanor got a B. Global Glowball for Christmas from her Auntie Karen. Now she’s really got the whole world in her hands.
I’m excited to get Global from Home back up and running and can’t wait to see what adventures lie ahead for Hubby, Eleanor, and me.
What “global from home” adventures did you have in 2013?