My childhood was pretty much a Leave it to Beaver sort of existence. We grew up in an upper middle class neighborhood in what is now Silicon Valley. We were deprived of nothing except SNOW for Christmas! Our parents were fairly old-school Christmas freaks. Dad had nine foot wall of classical Christmas LP's he'd stack on spindle the Voice of Music record changer some time around Halloween which would play continuously until February. Well, perhaps that's a TAD exaggerated, as a result of my childhood perceptions. But at any rate, our Christmases were a fairly balanced mix of Christian spirituality and good old fashioned American materialism.
In 1976 I moved to Alaska, which more than made up for my childhood snow deprivation. In Fairbanks, we have a white Christmas EVERY year, as well as white Thanksgivings and white Halloweens, and one white Fourth of July as I remember. My most meaningful and memorable Christmas, however, was in Rose Mu's orphanage in Mae La refugee camp on the Thailand/Burma border, in 2003.
Our mission group had brought in a bunch of brilliant red sweatshirts for 80 orphans who had virtually nothing. (Yes, it does get cold in the hill country of Thailand!). My oldest daughter, Jennifer, was with us on this trip, and she decided she really wanted an orphan for Christmas. (Alas, it's next to impossible to adopt Karen children, as they are, for all practical purposes, non-entities, having no citizenship in either Thailand or Burma). Everyone should spend at least one Christmas in a refugee camp. It certainly makes one grateful for what one has. And it's a lot of fun, besides.
Causes Eric Nichols Supports
Free Burma Rangers, Partners Ministries (Thailand), Literacy council of Alaska, Access Alaska.