Bird on a Bare Branch

Attempting to fling a frail song in my little corner of the world

On the Tenth, Eleventh, and Twelfth Days of Christmas… December 27, 2010

Filed under: Pictures — Jen @ 10:41 pm

Last Christmas in Dallas was a white Christmas.  We almost canceled our Christmas Eve service because of all the snow.

This year in Orange City was also a white Christmas.

My favorite cake ever is cranberry cake.  Usually my mom makes this for me for my birthday.  This year my grandma made it for Christmas.  Yum!


On the Ninth Day of Christmas… December 23, 2010

Filed under: Pictures — Jen @ 3:54 am

I took my parents’ dog for a walk this afternoon through the snow after conversations about when we’re doing Christmas with one side of the family versus the other, which Christmas Eve service we’d attend, what we’re eating for dessert on Christmas day, etc.  And I recalled a simple but favorite tradition of mine in Mozambique:  caroling by candlelight on the beach.  It’s summer in Mozambique for Christmas and what better way to celebrate than on the beach, singing to the waves as the sun sets.  There is something movie-like and nostalgic about having a wintry Christmas with lights and sparkle and scarves and mittens and real fir trees.  But I didn’t grow up with wintry Christmases.  I grew up with desert Christmases in Muslim countries where we pretended that the red and white National Day lights hung up for December 16 were for Christmas, and we made do with what was available to make our celebrations meaningful.  White Christmases are nice, and they do always bring back pleasant memories of Christmases in New York as a young child, but carols on the beach in 90 degree weather resonates more deeply with me.


O Come, O Come Emmanuel December 21, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jen @ 11:33 pm

My eyes went back and forth between the Mac screen and the window just to the left trying to reconcile the simultaneous realities.  Stray snowflakes added more white to the scene out the window, but on the screen I watched a fan rotate.  Skype still amazes me.  That I can sit in Minneapolis at 1:00 in the afternoon and see and hear my friend in a hot and humid Mozambique at 9:00 at night.

The last time I saw Dara was in Mozambique in July when I went to stay with her and her daughter for a couple days.  Only it’s not her daughter yet.  Nede is an adorable five-year-old Mozambican whom Dara fell in love with when she worked in Mozambique a couple years ago.  This past March she returned to Moz to attempt to adopt Nede.  To date she has made little progress.  Which is nothing short of very, very hard.  Dara is there by herself.  She loves this little girl, but there is no guarantee how long the adoption process will take.  Two years?  Five years?  Ten years?  When it comes to Mozambique, there is no way to know.

I’ve never wanted so badly to reach through a computer screen to hug someone.  Especially at this time of year.  As I get older, I become more and more aware of how lonely this time of year is for so many people.  I always want to fast-forward through December to January on that fact alone.  Please take a minute to read Dara’s blog, pray for her, pray for the adoption process:  Then think of others in your life who might be feeling isolated today, this week, on Saturday.  Call them.  Love them.  Let them know they are part of a larger body.  If you can hug them, do it.


On the Sixth, Seventh, and Eighth Days of Christmas…

Filed under: Pictures — Jen @ 7:16 pm

Merry Christmas from Namibia!  As I currently sit in Minneapolis taking in all the snow around me, I almost need to pinch myself when I start thinking that once upon a time I drove across Southern Africa with some Swedes to celebrate Christmas in the Namibian desert.  But there are photos to prove it happened.  Just once.  The trip of a lifetime.

From top to bottom:  Waiting for our ostrich steaks on Christmas Eve; how we spent Christmas day; a Christmas tree in Swakopmund.


On the Third, Fourth, and Fifth Days of Christmas… December 18, 2010

Filed under: Pictures — Jen @ 7:37 pm

Wow, I can’t even keep up with a simple five minute post each day!  But school’s out now until January, so I have loads of time!


As I mentioned before, Christmas is not really celebrated in Mozambique, although the commercialism surrounding Christmas is on the rise, including pressure to give gifts, which means theft is high at this time of year.   You wouldn’t think that the picture of the crab vendor is very Christmas-y, but first of all, it’s summer right now in Moz.  And second of all, he probably wasn’t even aware that it was Christmas.  He was the first person I saw outside of the Gobas apartment on Christmas morning, and it struck me how very normal the day was – not feeling like a holiday at all.  Certainly my Moz family, who I was staying with at the time, didn’t have any major plans.  They were surprised when I gave them a little gift, and they weren’t even planning to do anything as a family.  I ended up going with Mae Ana to her mother’s house in the morning.  For lunch I went to Brazilian/Hawaiian friends.  In the evening I ate pizza and watched a movie with some British friends.



On the Second Day of Christmas… December 15, 2010

Filed under: Pictures — Jen @ 5:08 am

I arrived in Mozambique just a few weeks before Christmas 2007.  I was told that because Mozambique had been Communist, Christmas was not celebrated.  Instead it was known as Family Day.  Even churches did more for New Year’s Eve than for Christmas.  However, that first Christmas, there were small signs of the season.  Shops did not sell Christmas decorations, but a handful of street vendors walked around with tinsel and small plastic Christmas trees.


On the First Day of Christmas December 14, 2010

Filed under: Pictures — Jen @ 4:15 am

I’m not actually sure when the twelve days of Christmas are, but let’s say they start today.  (Oops, I just googled it, and it’s the twelve days from Christmas to Epiphany.  So this is purely Jen’s Twelve Days.)  I’m doing this for several reasons:

1)  I haven’t blogged in forever and probably have lost all my readers, so need to get on it.  However, that leads me to my next points…

2)  I have a sink FULL of dishes and a book bag FULL of grading, so…

3)  I don’t really have time to write the posts I really want to write about how awful teaching is.

4) In my photo series, I hit Scotland and got stuck because there are over 300 photos in there, and how’s a girl to choose?

5) Christmas is about to pass me by very, very quickly if I don’t take two minutes each day to stop and post a Christmas photo.

So I am.  And here is the first day of Christmas.

From 2006, a longer-than-planned-for Christmas in Chicago during my year in England.  It was a dark winter in more ways than one, but that trip was brightened by visits to Chicago from a couple different good friends.  I believe this photo was taken during a stroll around Wicker Park.