I would be lying to you if I said that the holiday season wasn't one of the hardest times to be a Peace Corps Volunteer. It is one of the few times where within a few months so many things that I love, i am unable to partake in. There are so many events with family and friends that you miss serving abroad and then hear about the fun times had at these. There are traditions that are not and cannot be followed. The normal food and drinks are not available. Basically the familiarity and the comfort of the holiday season is gone. The love that is normally felt is not given and received. But with all of this said you learn to appreciate things differently and share and receive love in ways that I didn't expect.
First to all of my friends and family back home in America you are amazing. Your support means the world to me and the fact that even if we don't talk, email, or write all that often, I know that I could call on one of you and you would be there in a heartbeat to support me.
Second to my friends and family in Zambia, thanks so much for welcoming me into your traditions and celebrations and for coming along in this crazy journey.
I thought that I would share a bit of my Christmas experience in the village with you all. Every time I hear the word Christmas I cringe a little now. Christmas here doesn't mean what it does in America. If someone says Christmas to you it means "What are you going to give me because it is 2 weeks before the 25th of December, the 25th of December or 2 weeks after the 25th of December?" (This is the same for the word New Years). So people just walk by (both me and other Zambians) and say Christmas and are hoping that money will be thrown into their arms. So instead of money I spent about a week making over 100 friendship bracelets to give you to the 4 families that I am closest within the village.
Christmas morning itself I woke up and mad e pancakes for my host family with the children helping. They enjoyed them a lot..but this was only the beginning. As soon as I went to go and fetch my water someone in my family called me over to sit and eat a HUGE bowl of rice and sugar...I was so full but I couldn't say no. Rice is a huge luxury, rice and sugar that is being decadent. It was so nice of them to share with me.
On Christmas Eve one of my friends, Minata, invited me to her house on Christmas at 9. When I arrived I brought some pancakes which were devoured as soon as I arrived. I then had each one on her compound come and close their eyes then choose a friendship bracelet out of the bag, which was a little overwhelming because people kept wanting more or asking to change but luckily Minata kept things under control. Then Minata proceeded to bring my inside her house and feed me again (I just ate less than an hour ago!). She had prepared tea with powdered milk and sugar(very rare and super expensive) just for me no one else was drinking it (i felt a little guilty about that), a big bowl or rice and sugar, 2 buns which she saved just for me instead of selling and butter. This was a very very extravagant meal and such a kind gesture to prepare this sort of meal and invite me over for it.
Later in the day everyone was at church so I had some alone time to sit and reflect on my time in Zambia. We even held a women's club meeting that day. I then just hung around with my family and kids it was very relaxing. I got to talk to my family in America and I made a huge pot of rice pudding for my family in Zambia.
It was definitely not my typical Christmas, I would be lying if I didn't say I missed that kind of Christmas, but I was surrounded by people who loved me and got to experience something that I may never experience again. I felt loved by so many on that day.