I celebrated Christmas with my mom tonight, far away from her, and alone in my new home. I know Christmas Eve and Christmas Day will be busy, so I wanted some time alone to really think about my family, since that’s usually the focus of this season, along with the birth of Christ, of course. My mom sent some really cool things, but the two that really touched me were a devotional book that belonged to my grandmother and an Episcopal Hymnal and Book of Common Prayer signed by my mother. I cried a little when I opened the first, missing my grandmother and grieving the fact that Alzheimer’s will change her before I get back; and I really cried as I read my mom’s words in the cover of the second, as she described that her mother gave her a copy of the same hymnal and prayer book years ago. Finally! A good cry in Africa! I’ve been stocking up on tears for months now. I wish I could describe how it makes me feel to be connected to women like my mom and grandmother, to think that I’m in that same line of inspiring women, to recognize I come from somewhere, that I have a heritage. And now I have the music to hymns I used to sing every day in chapel, starting at age 4. My mom and I are funny about hymns. We sing them all the time. Sometimes a hymn will get stuck in my head and I’ll email my mom to tell her, knowing she’ll start singing the same one with me, humming it all day on the other side of the world. We might be two of the quirkiest people I know. I love you, Mom.
After the whole sentimental gift opening moment, I got a call from Josue saying he and his wife Prisca and son Isaac were coming over. We had talked the previous day about how I’d like them to come over for dinner, but seeing as he was calling at 8:30pm, I thought surely they would have eaten before arriving. Au contraire. When they walked in at 9:30pm, I panicked to find they’d yet to eat a thing. So I ran into the kitchen and threw a quick salad together. Prisca came in to check out my spices and what not. She opened each one and ventured a guess as to what it was used for. At one point she opened my “Italian Seasoning” and asked, “Is this what white people drink in hot tea at night to be skinny?” I said no, that it was seasoning for food, but that I did have herbal tea if she wanted to try some. she said, “No, you can drink it because you are white.” After eating the salad, she said, “This is how you white people stay skinny,” as she pranced around the kitchen in her best ‘white’ impersonation, “We eat rice and pounded yams, but you eat lettuce.” I think Prisca has an overstated impression of our differences. I hope to bring her to the US someday so she can understand where I come from a bit better.
I also gave Prisca and Josue their Christmas presents. Here, people exchange gifts on New Years. Christmas is a celebration for kids, since it’s celebrating baby Jesus. The New Year is significant though, since it means you have made it through another year safely. But keeping with my traditions, I gave them Christmas gifts anyway. The coolest gift was “tissue,” or fabric. I bought a pattern that I thought was pretty, but more importantly, I bought the brand name “Hi-Target Block,” the best in wax fabric fashion. I ran into some of my students in the market right after purchasing the fabric, and I showed it to them, seeking approval. They totally ignored the pattern and immediately judged by the brand name that I had chosen well. Only problem is, you can only buy “Hi-Target Block” in 12 meters. I needed to buy 15 to 18 meters if Josue, Prisca and Isaac were all going to make clothes out of it (matching family outfits are SO hip here), so I splurged to buy a full 24 meters, telling Josue and Prisca I wanted to keep 6 meters to make my own matching outfit. They were absolutely delighted. They can’t wait to wear our matching outfits and to take a gazillion pictures. Such fun.