Saturday, January 12, 2008

Christmas in Machinga

Happy New Year! I hope everyone is settling well into 2008 and had a safe and happy holiday season!

My Christmas holiday this year was spectacular! I had a wonderful few weeks traveling around the country with Marc, my boyfriend who came to visit from Ottawa. It was wonderful to be able to share some of my experiences with him, for him to meet all of my friends and family and as well, to explore some new and exciting places together.

Before Marc’s arrival, the days leading up to Christmas were fairly uneventful. But when Marc arrived, it was like Santa Claus stepped off a plane! He arrived with an enormous bag of gifts, not just for me but for the Kachifumbu’s in Machinga. I was truly overwhelmed and humbled by the thoughtfulness of friends and family back home. The meaningful words in Christmas cards, the CD of Christmas carols, the pictures and all the gifts were very special, stirring up a lot of emotions – missing everyone at home, being proud of what I’m doing here but most of all, feeling very truly blessed and lucky to have so many special people who support me. I thank each and every one of you for your thoughts and wishes. You cannot begin to know how much it means…

We spent Christmas with the Kachifumbu family in Machinga, and it truly was a wonderful day. Florence and I spent Christmas Eve preparing a Christmas cake while Marriot and Marc went off to church. When I say “Christmas “cake it was actually a white cake complete with dried cranberries from Canada, icing and sprinkles – a special treat as Florence had requested a “Canadian” cake for Christmas. That night, Marc and I stayed up late and played Santa Claus. It was so fun! After everyone went to bed, we snuck into the sitting room and decorated a Christmas tree we bought, put up photos we had developed and laid out all of the goodies for the family under the tree.

After Santa's visit

Sleeping that night was difficult with all the excitement and anticipation but all tired thoughts were forgotten as we listened to the gasps, the giggles and whispers at the discovery on Christmas morning. We spent about 2 hours opening presents, one person at a time, relishing every moment – dinky cars and dolls, clothes and soaps – all the while laughing with excitement and enthusiasm with the unwrapping of each item. It was also very emotional – both for me and them. It was so nice to see this family – my family – who has given me so much, taken me into their home and their family as if I belong, never making me feel different or strange, they have taught me so much, they have loved and supported me, talked with me and comforted me – it was so nice to see them so happy and overwhelmed. To be in some small way, if only for a few hours, a part of creating so much joy. To see them so overwhelmed by the gifts themselves but also because they had been remembered in the thoughts of total strangers in Canada. For all of you who sent something, please know that you have been a part of a very special Christmas for a very lucky couple from Canada and an extremely special family from Machinga.

The morning was spent playing with new presents and chatting under the mango tree with friends as they stopped by. The kids were looking very snazzy in their new clothes – although Nixon and Catherine refused to wear anything else for a few days afterwards! The soccer ball was kicked around much to the delight of the neighbouring kids. Catherine’s new doll never left her side even when she was sleeping. It was dragged around by the hand or strapped to her back like a real African baby. We enjoyed pop and even wine at dinner as a special treat that Marc and I brought. It was the first time that they had had wine! That afternoon Marriot, Florence, Marc and I set off on a walk. And on our way home as dusk was falling on a perfect day, we were treated to a beautiful double rainbow arching over the vast green farms that surround the village. It was a day full of joy and laughter, the smiles of children and the love of family and friends – everything that a perfect Christmas day should be.

All of us in our new Christmas clothes

So although it was without snow, without carols and without the total gluttony of food and thousands of gifts, it was a Christmas that will not soon be forgotten. My aunt wrote in her Christmas card to me “your adventure has been the source of not just entertainment, but a reawakening of the knowledge of what is important in the world”. I hope in some small way, that you all feel like that. That would be a great Christmas present for me…

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

oh my gosh we have a place i am sooo going there