25 December 2007

Christmas is here! Well, not so much here as there in America, but KB and I did our best to bring a little bit of American Christmas cheer to our Ethiopian lives. We woke up this morning and used our single kerosene burner to make a big Christmas breakfast: scrambled eggs, French toast, fried potatoes, and hot chocolate (Swiss Miss, straight from the States, courtesy of Suzanne and Bonnie, to whom I give my eternal gratitude). In lieu of presents under the tree, we opened up the letters we had been stockpiling all week. We listened to Christmas music on KB's laptop ALL DAY LONG – which, granted, still doesn't make up for the solid month of Thanksgiving-to-Christmas-Day holiday music we would have endured or avoided in the States. We watched "A Christmas Story" (only once, though we considered keeping it running all day in a continuous loop to simulate TBS's traditional marathon). I wore my Santa hat around the house like an idiot (thanks again to Suzanne and Bonnie).

Ethiopia was even willing to help us out a little bit in our quest for American-style holiday celebration. Santa brought running water to the house, not just once but, astoundingly, TWICE during the day. I went to the store to buy toilet paper and, deciding to buy two rolls at once in a little indulgence of Christmas spirit (merry Christmas to ME!), the shopkeeper pulled from the shelf one pink roll and one green. In the evening, KB's supervisors stopped by my house bearing two kilos of Christmas bananas. Muluken told us, "I said to Ato Zeleke: Today is their Christmas. It is a very special holiday. I have seen it on TV. There is singing and much food, and families are all together. They might be lonely today. We must go visit."

All in all, it really was a merry Christmas. I had debated whether to even acknowledge the day or to just let it pass like any other sunny, 84-degree December workday in Debremarkos, worried that my attempts to scrape together a makeshift celebration would only depress me when they inevitably fell far short of the real thing. But KB and I had a great day together, and through the warmth conveyed in letters and phone calls, we truly felt connected to the people we love. We each talked to several family members and friends from the U.S. My Welliso host family called me three times – one per each family member over the age of four – and there was a barrage of text messaging between PCVs. Far from all people I have long known and loved, it is indescribably good to feel an assurance that they are still thinking of me on this special day.

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