I love Christmas.I love the 4th of July. I never thought I’d get to have the two together!
On Monday, July 4th we went to Bethlehem, so we celebrated the 4th by singing Christmas hymns all day and talking about Christmas stories. It was a fabulous day. (Plus, we got to celebrate the 4th in pure America fashion by having burgers and hot dogs the night before).
I have always adored the Christmas hymns. Imagine how surreal it was to sing “Silent Night” overlooking a shepherd’s field right under Bethlehem. I felt such a sobering peace in that town, especially as I reflected about the humble life of the Savior.
We only celebrate the beginning of his life so much because of what happened at the end of his life. He did what no one else could do for our sake, and we would do well to humble ourselves and remember that fact more often. I can’t say that I’ve become a completely different person here, or that I’ve changed in every way that I would like to yet. But I have been humbled time and time again and I have become more deeply and sincerely grateful to God for all he has given me.
I’ve become more grateful to live in the United States, as well. I even got emotional when on Sunday night we sang the national anthem together. All you back home know how much I LOVE America. I go all out for the 4th of July, my “bald is beautiful” bald eagle long-sleeve tee is one of my most prized articles of clothing, and I have been known to begin a “U-S-A” chant on more than one occasion. But this was deeper than all of that. A feeling of gratitude that I live where I have opportunities, safety, resources, and most importantly, religious freedom.
So, yes, I think you could say that celebrating Independence day and Christmas together was pretty much the greatest double whammy of all time.
The rest of that week was excellent as well. I keep thinking it can’t get any better, and then it does. We keep discovering new places and meeting new people who have incredible stories to tell. I’m fascinated by every church, every historical monument, and every person here. I’m starting to feel a sort of urgency, pushing me to take advantage of any and all free time I have here, because there is just so much to see and so much to learn! I’m grateful we have more free afternoons and infinite ground to cover.