What is Christmas? It is tenderness for the past, courage for the present, hope for the future.

Today is a beautiful winter’s day. The sky is a bit overcast, but it is in the 40’s anyway. I’m glad I have a few errands to get me outside, including the dump. Henry needs food, both canned and dry, biscuits and bully sticks to keep him busy. I also need to fill the bird feeders and wrap a few presents. My friends and I are going out for Thai food then we’ll exchange gifts, usually a January event for us.

Last night I sat in the living room just to look at the tree and all the decorations. I decided the room was beautiful. It is gently lit. Light comes from the tree and from a huge basket by the fireplace in which sits a plastic fifties light-up Santa and a decorated gourd with white lights shining through small holes. Two trees sit on different tables. One is a driftwood tree on the big table and the other is a stark white branch tree on the table behind the nativity. Both have white lights. My dining room too is lovely. Most of the light comes from my scrub pine tree in the corner and another fifties plastic Santa in front of it. A small set of lights is in the centerpiece among the ornaments and the pomegranates. The small red ornaments shine.

At Christmas in Ghana where I lived in the Upper Region, in Bolgatanga, it was harmattan time. Hot, dry dusty winds blowing off the desert left every surface gritty. The days were usually in the high 90’s or even over 100˚. The nights were cold, down to the 70’s. I had a wool blanket on my bed, the same one which hangs from the couch back in the living room. My mother had sent decorations and a tiny tree. She even sent a paper brick fireplace for my wall. I hung my stocking on it. I was not looking forward to Christmas, my first away from home. Patrick, another volunteer, and I decided to have a party on Christmas Eve. Bolga was not on anyone’s list to visit except during school holidays when volunteers were in town looking to go north into what is now Burkina Faso and Niger. I baked cookies for the first time ever. We bought Star beer. The other volunteers also bought food, a tradition when visiting another volunteer, and beer. We sang carols. We celebrated together. It was a wonderful Christmas.

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6 Comments on “What is Christmas? It is tenderness for the past, courage for the present, hope for the future.”

  1. Rowen Says:

    What was the oven like that you used to bake cookies in Ghana?

    • katry Says:

      Rowen,
      I had an oven which used gas, but the gas was expensive and a 200 mile round trip to get it. The school had a beehive oven to cook all the student’s food. I’d bring the cookies or the pie to the cook’s, and they’d put them in the right spot in the oven. It took no time at all for them to bake.

  2. Bob Cohen Says:

    Regardless where one is during the holidays the important thing is food and friends.

  3. Spaceman Says:

    Lovely story. Scratch Henry’s ears for me


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