Obviously, this Christmas was a lot different for me than any other Christmas I’ve had. In fact, it was a lot different for my whole family; my brother was with his fiancée and her parents’ house, I was in Uganda, and my parents were in Mississippi. All new locations with all different kinds of people attending. Craziness.
I think at first the idea of Christmas got me a little sad. Obviously it’s the quintessential time to be with the family, and it would be the first time I wouldn’t get that “Christmas morning” that we Americans all know so well. The fact that I wasn’t going to be waking up my parents by banging on their wall with my brother at the crack of dawn, well it kind of got to me. It also didn’t help that everybody I knew was saying how much it must suck that I wasn’t “home for the holidays”. I also wasn’t going to be giving presents, and had no expectations to receive any, besides maybe a beer or two from the parish priest. Not getting to wrap presents, a good Boddie tradition, was probably the biggest hit that I took out of all of it.
But I started thinking; there is a whole hell of a lot that I’ve been given this Christmas. Considering that in August I was Bartending/Managing in Chapel Hill while living in the basement floor of a (lovely) 70 year-old ladies house, and now I’m on the Board of Trustees for a Health Center in Ngora, Uganda as a Peace Corps Volunteer…I think there are a lot of things that I have to be thankful for. Looking at my life on paper, PC obviously took a risk on spending all the time, energy, and money on me that they have. Moreso, the Catholic Parish where I’m living has given me a house, running water (even though it runs all over my house), and electricity (on a good day) in a land where all three are designated only for the extremely wealthy. They have done this on THEIR OWN dime, without the help of PC, strictly to allow me to kind of run free in hopes that I will be making changes that will account and exceed these costs. I’ve been given 170 peers from America that would, at the drop of a hat, come to my home if I ever had something where they could help me with. Also, from one of those 170 people, I’ve been given pretty much every single thing a guy could need for moving into a house (more on her later.)
Anyway, bottom line: Don’t feel bad for me. I’m making out like a bandit. Ok, attending 4 masses from 7:30-2 isn’t exactly my normal Christmas, but hey. I drank beer, I taught my people how to shag (dance) and the waltz (thank you, Ballroom Dancing class), and I had fun. It was a great Christmas, despite my doubts beforehand.
To come: New Years! I think I’ll be staying close to home, despite earlier plans to head down to the South West part of the country with a bunch of other PCVs. Bushonyi sounds awesome, but having to go through Kampala when Al Shabaab has been doing all their antics isn’t really worth it to me. Besides, if what we are doing at midnight is what we’ll be doing for the rest of the year, I’d rather be in Ngora with my arranged family. And that’s an awesome feeling.