Merry (day after) Christmas, everyone!
All this year I was in great fear of being flat out depressed on Christmas. The period of time from Halloween to New Year’s is my most favorite time of year – even though I’m a great fan of Easter and the Fourth of July during the appropriate time of year – and the thought of being away from family for the holidays is pretty heavy for me. There’s no substitute for me being able to hang out with family and enjoy a Christmas feast together, spend a morning opening presents, going on a Christmas Eve cross country ski outing.
As it turns out, my first Christmas in Morocco was pretty lovely. Not as lovely as being at home. But much better than I was expecting.
Since I have guilt issues about canceling class, I decided to stay in site and not travel too far to visit any other volunteers. My classes met on Christmas Eve and Christmas as normal, but were treated to cookies, writing letters to Santa (yay for practicing the verb “to want”), and tonight – a showing of Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer.
Jesus is considered to be a profit in Islam, so the story of his birth appears in the Koran (although I’ve been told he is born under a palm tree instead of in a stable) and most of my students had heard of Santa Claus (or Baba Noel) due to the French colonization influence here. They had fun making up ridiculous Christmas lists – what any 12 year old would do with a Ferrari is beyond me – and I received several real and virtual Christmas cards, which made me feel so welcome and accepted and at home in a place that is so far from my real home.
So that was class.
Most of this week, outside of class, of course, was spent on Skype with my family and making a day trip to one of the neighboring volunteers for Christmas brunch and a cutthroat game of Settlers of Catan.
Semi-early on Christmas morning, I hopped in a taxi, passed not only the goats in trees but also a herd of camels, to the west to visit one of my closest neighbors. A bunch of other volunteers had gathered there to celebrate the holidays, which we did with homemade beignets, egg breakfast casserole, and Christmas cookies. The nine of us also did a white elephant gift exchange – where you can steal and trade gifts until most people have what they wanted. I brought a knitted potholder to exchange and ended up with a bag of chocolate granola. That takes care of breakfast for the rest of the week!
Meanwhile, my family at home has swollen to include my mom’s brother and sister visiting for the holidays and I’ve been spending more time on Skype to feel like I’m not missing any of the Christmas activities. Being on the computer set in the middle of the kitchen watching dinner be prepared is almost the same as being there, right? Not quite, but it’s amazing to be this far away and still be able to see someone talking to you on a completely different continent.
While it would have been much better to be home, my Christmas was still quite nice and I’m excited for the next year!