I am a straight up Scrooge until Black Friday. Can’t stand the site of a Christmas tree until then, and I gasp if anyone plays Christmas music. (Anyone?)

Not this year.

I turned on Mariah Carey and belted out “All I Want For Christmas” at the top of my lungs right after church Sunday evening … November 11! My husband asked me who had taken over my body.

What wiped away the “bah hum bug” in me?

Homecoming.

For the first year in my life, I have a child away at college—my first stayed local and I now thank him— and she’s coming home.

Lexi’s not-soon-enough arrival got me thinking of how to welcome her, which reminded me of a Thanksgiving trip to Zambia. It was just Bob and I, as the trip would be fast and full of ministry. We left the kids with my mom to eat turkey. (Never been so homesick in my life!)

And oh, how very unsatisfying the food was in Zambia. We ate nshima—a corn meal paste—for 14 days straight. I like it, but I was so tired of it, and I just wanted to be home where I could eat some turkey. That’s what I craved. Instead, I was boarding a tiny little missionary plane to go out into the African bush to help some missionaries train their nursing students.

When I got there, the missionary, whose name was Sherry Letchford,took me directly into her home. You won’t believe this, but I thought I smelled meat! “Wow! Sherry, it smells so nice in here. I feel like I’m home,” I said, not daring to ask what I might be smelling.

“I thought some good American comfort food might be just what you needed after two weeks in Zambia,” she said. “I made meatloaf balls, mashed potatoes and mango muffins for you.” I promise you that in all of my life no food has ever satisfied me like Sherry’s simple feast of love.

The experience reminded me that it’s the simple things that make a homecoming so special. After all, there’s some wisdom in Mariah’s song. All I really want for Christmas is Lexi!

So, I’m planning simple for her arrival that I might not distract from what really matters. Us. Family. Together. I might even whip up some of these Sherry’s Mango Muffins. (The recipe is below if you want to make some, too!)

Who might you be welcoming home during this holiday season?

Take a deep breath. Keep it simple.

Mango Muffins
:: 1 large ripe mango, diced small
:: 2 c all purpose flour
::  ½ c sugar
:: 1 T baking powder
::  ½ t salt
:: 1 c buttermilk
::  ¼ c vegetable oil
:: 2 large eggs, beaten
:: 1 t almond extract

Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large mixing bowl. Combine milk, oil, eggs, and almond extract in a medium bowl; whisk until smooth. Add the milk mixture to the flour mixture; stir just until moistened. Stir the chopped mango gently into the batter. Divide the batter evenly into twelve prepared muffin cups.

Bake at 400 until golden, about 20-25 minutes. Remove the mango muffins from the cups and place on a wire rack to cool slightly. Eat them while they are warm with both butter and freshly whipped cream.

Whipped cream
1 c whipping cream
2 T confectioners sugar
1t vanilla

Editor’s Note: It was exceedingly difficult for me to find a fresh mango in November even in Texas. I used frozen mango chunks, thawed out and cut a bit smaller and they turned out fine. I recommend draining them on a paper towel first to remove the extra moisture before folding them into the batter.