This last couple of weeks have been incredibly relaxed, with plenty of free time for me to fill. Since the rains have started all of the farmers, which is everyone in my village, have been busy plowing fields, planting maize, and hoeing weeds. All of this agriculture leaves little time for fish farming, which puts me somewhat at loose ends.
Most mornings I spend a few hours in my garden, and the afternoons are whiled away coloring with the kids. All in all it has been a very laid-back time, and it has been easy to forget that the ‘Holiday Season’ has been in full swing back home. Christmas here in Zambia is certainly different from our American version of the holiday. Except for in the big cities, shops do not decorate, radio stations do not play endless carols, and people are not compelled to buybuybuy. Christmas is a special day to go to church and have a good meal with your family, but the maize still needs planting and the weeds still l need hoeing. Along with most of my village, I spent Christmas morning pulling weeds in my garden.
In the afternoon everyone bathes and puts on their new Christmas clothes, then heads to church for the Christmas service. There is singing, of hymns rather than carols, and dancing, and lots of chatting afterward. Lastly everyone comes home for their Christmas meal, the definite inclusion of meat making it special. And that is Christmas: no gifts and no overindulging on rich foods. Very different from how we celebrate back home.
For my part, I did make cookies on my brazier, put up a paper chain in my hut, and pull out a new coloring book for the kids to make the day a little bit special, but otherwise it was much like any other. It was definitely the most mellow Christmas I’ve ever had.
So Merry Christmas from Zambia! I’ve certainly enjoyed my non-American Christmas experience, but I think it, like most things in life, could be seriously improved by about 10 pounds of toffee.