Next Wednesday marks my nine month anniversary in country. This seems absolutely crazy. I am constantly mixed with feeling I just left, feeling like I have been gone forever, and feeling like I have so much more to go and work has just started. While my friend Brittany is talking about having a "It could have been a Baby" party, (who said theme parties had to die in college it dawns on me that the holiday season is upon us! The weird thing about time, is we all measure it differently. For the majority of my life, my years were measured by grade levels and summer vacations; then flights home, concerts, papers, finals, shifts, gigs, buying plane tickets, changing seasons, and of course holidays! I no longer have the majority of those things to measure tie and while there are "seasons" in Zambia, it's really not the same. If you think Northern California is moderate and never changes much as far as weather goes, think again. Zambia has 3 seasons; cold, hot, and rainy. Cold is from about June-Aug. and really isn't cold. It's true the mornings and evenings do cool down, but the days are hot and sunny. Hot season as you might have expected is HOT and dry. Rainy Season is rainy (shocking, I know) but when the sun comes out it gets pretty hot. You know it will never rain in cold and hot seasons, and you know it will rain at least once a day during rainy season. And while the small weather changes do affect me more with no insulation, heater, ice, or popsicles, I am always in a skirt and t-shirt; give or take a scarf and sweater in the morning. Rainy season I never leave without my rain jacket and random plastic bags.
But I digress…..the reason I started the topic is because without the same seasons as the West Coast, I don’t really grasp that time is moving there as well as here. It might be a bit egocentric but part of me still thinks it’s snowing in Portland. I know life didn’t stop when I left, but I have no concept of the day to day, so only the big events seem to bring me back to reality; like the fact that Joshy is actually in college; and way too many people are now engaged; and Christmas!
As many of you know, I LOVE Christmas. I think Thanksgiving, Friendsgiving, and Christmas should all be thought of together. A time of family, friends, cocktails, crafting, god food, good laughs, cuddling, Christmas movies/musicals, trees, tea, and of course Christmas music! And I start early. None of this wait ‘til after Thanksgiving shit. I start November 1st baby. (well to be honest, most years I have to working start on some kind of Christmas program in Oct) This year, even though I was in a sundress, I was cleaning my hut to the most awesome Christmas play-list in the morning on the 1st. It was fabulous. And really I have to do all I can here to make it actually feel like the holidays. This holiday season holds a lot of firsts for me. (like most of what I have done in Zambia…I guess that one was a bit too obvious) While I won’t be getting little booties to hang on the tree saying “Baby’s First Christmas”, this one might end up being more signifigant….A Christmas of Firsts!
This will be the first Christmas in my memory that I won’t be spending on Montego Key, which means this is the first Christmas away from my family (Last years freak snowstorm aka “arctic blast 2008” was a close call…but was saved by Craigslist…got to love it) …and NO bloody marys! With any luck I’ll be able to find something resembling tomato juice and vodka, but honestly there is nothing better than bloody marys at the Greenwells.
This will be my first Christmas out of the country; my first Thanksgiving sans family as well and will also be turkeyless. This will be the first holiday season I won’t make haystacks with my mom and stay up til midnight Christmas Eve wrapping presents along with the rest of my family, all ducking into different rooms avoiding someone different every ten minutes.
This will be the first year in who knows how long hat I won’t be singing in any type of Christmas program. First year with no tree, or lights, or hell…even electricity. First New Years with no ocean and I’m sure the list can go on….but never fear, not all firsts are bad and life here is totally worth it. It will be my first North-West (Zambia) Thanksgiving. All the Volunteers in the Province are coming and we are doing a Zam-style/Americaland Thanksgiving with lamb, chicken, and soya, instead of turkey and tofu-rkey. My mom is sending “White Christmas” so I can bring the tradition and greatness to the Peace Corps House. There will not only be lots of carols but I’m sure plenty of Christmas crafting, decorations, and a Christmas bed!
And while you are all bundled up and pale, I will be sitting on the shores of Lake Malawi with a group of people I love and eating fresh mangos. (still probably pale as well) New Years will include a full moon and hopefully just enough craziness. Plus, not only do I get to avoid all the holiday shopping commercials, I get to celebrate a whole 10 hours earlier. (Most five year old kids would kill for Christmas morning 10 hours earlier than last year)
So Happy Holidays everyone! I hope you enjoy the people around you and embrace all the cheesy and wonderful parts of this tie of year. I miss you all and love you all so much. Eat lots of food, drink good (or cheap) wine, sing carols as much as possible, and enjoy the lights……I’ll miss the lights for sure. Travel safely, and if you can, check in on my mom. I think all these firsts will be hard on her too.
And remember: Will Ferrell said it best…. "The best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear"
10 points if anyone knows what a Christmas bed is….
20 if you can correctly guess how many times I used the word Christmas without counting…..there really is no good synonym for that one….
(included in a letter written to Maggie Nov. 14, 2009 and posted by Dad)