Ethiopian Christmas 2019

January 7th is Christmas in Ethiopia and other parts of the world.  Our family hasn’t always celebrated Ethiopian Christmas.  For years I was afraid of doing it wrong or not getting enough right or leaving out really important parts of the celebration.  I didn’t even know how to make Ethiopian food and still don’t.  Then 5 years ago I realized I was being really dumb by letting these things keep us from celebrating such a special holiday in Solomon and Amon’s culture.  We decided to go for it and just do our best.  Now it’s one of our most favorite holidays.

In Ethiopia, they start their celebration off at their places of worship by lighting candles and worshipping together.  We kicked ours off by gathering in our home, thanking everyone briefly for joining us for such a special celebration, lighting candles and then praying over our food and time together.  If I’m the one thanking the group, I always get choked up and fight back tears.  It’s just such an incredibly important and special time for our family and Solomon and Amon love it so much.

Josh Kelley has started trying to figure out some Ethiopian dishes to cook, but again, so shame in our game, so we ordered Ethiopian food from our go-to Ethiopian restaurant GoJo in Nashville.  It was delicious as always and did not disappoint.  We also had fruits and veggies along side our Chickfila nugget tray.  I was a very picky eater as a kiddo, so I always like to have some foods I know kiddos will definitely eat.  No crying over food at our parties!

We always let Solomon and Amon decide on our desserts.  Desserts are not a big piece of Ethiopian culture, but they totally are Kelley culture. 🙂  Solomon LOVES to think about dessert details and make his selections and Amon lended assistance this year.  They went with a rainbow cake…again…and a candy bar with all their favorites…mini Kit-Kats, Twin Snakes, sour gummi bears, mini Reeces, Airhead Bites & Extremes, M&Ms and Skittles.

We always have coffee and popcorn for our coffee ceremony.  I love watching all the kids try coffee and shovel handfuls of popcorn into their mouths.  I am not a coffee drinker, but once a year on Ethiopian Christmas I enjoy a small cup of coffee with my dessert.  This year I sat by Josh with my coffee and cake and we just looked over at each other and I started to cry.  We both knew how much we were missing Everett.  It’s just constant and sometimes it’s really hard to reign in the emotions.  We didn’t get to celebrate an Ethiopian Christmas with him and he would have loved it.  We added pieces of Everett all throughout our night.

A cooler sits in the floor of our kitchen filled with large glass bottle sodas as well.  This is not traditional at all, but it is for our family.  So many sweet and irreplaceable memories of being in Ethiopia with Josh, Solomon, Amon, Harper and Ashely have these glass bottle sodas peppered through out our time there together.  I have such specific memories I cherish so deeply, so we’ll always have them as a sweet reminder and everyone LOVES a big glass bottle soda.

The kids run wild playing and eating all the sweet treats.  We sit around talking and eating and enjoying each other’s company and playing games.  The more the merrier for sure and everyone knows they are more than welcome to bring a friend with them.  There will always be enough and we love sharing a piece of Ethiopian culture with those around us.

Our whole family looks forward to celebrating Solomon and Amon’s rich, beautiful culture on this special day.  We mix Ethiopian culture plus the Kelley spin and get authentic Ethiopian food catered, coffee ceremonies, Chick-fil-A & rainbow cake.  We do us and celebrate the fire out of our gorgeous boys. Traditions are what we make them to be and can be born whenever we’re ready.  Melkam Gena!


  1. Meggan mcfaden says:

    This just makes me smile and crave Ethiopian food!!

  2. BarB cole says:

    I love how you LOVE and HONOR your children and celebrate their home lands. Everett has been on my mind and I continue to pray for your broken hearts.

  3. So precious…and I must just say, I am on love with that itty bitty Preds jersey!

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  5. I love your rainbow cake! It looks too hard for me but I did just make rainbow jello glasses again for one of my kids birthdays. Something about eating rainbows just makes people happier – even my kids who hate having flavors mixed get all excited about rainbow jello (I do use pineapple instead of lemon for the yellow). In the summer we’ll do a rainbow fruit tray and again they act like I’ve served truffles and caviar. I can’t think of a better symbol than a rainbow to commemorate your son. Spreading joy in every single act I’m sure.

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