Tuesday, January 06, 2009

The 12 Days of Christmas (the first 4 of them) . . . or, The Christmas Goat


Our Christmas celebration lasted 12 days here – if you include the decorating, the clean-up days (before and after) and the day of rest following the last clean-up day. Reggae versions of our favorite (and other) Christmas Carols were played throughout each day – and they were received in varying degrees of delight and distaste. There was dancing, drumming, singing, feasting, celebrating, partying, Father Christmas, gift giving, champagne, a Nativity enactment, Christmas visitors, cheese and sausage, golden clothes . . . and the Christmas Goat. Everything and more – only no snow. (Although, it did get a little chilly in the wee hours of the night – something like 18C, which is around 65F – which is a little nippy when you wake up and the sun isn’t yet so strong, thanks to the Harmattan’s dust blocking its early morning rays.)

We decorated – lights, paper decorations made by the kids and caregivers and palm branches were tied together, strung up, and spread throughout the compound. It was a big decorating party – the caregivers and kids who were helping to decorate had a good time hanging things up, playing around, etc. – as Christmas preparations should be.

















Then the Frafras came to dance and sing (another Frafra link here)– but I didn’t have my camera that night so you’ll have to take my word for it. It was the first real party of the season here, everyone was full of energy and excitement.

On Christmas Eve, another SMA lay missionary from Buduburam, Claire, came up for a visit. She’s French, and her brother and his wife had just arrived in Ghana a couple of days prior, with the plan to spend Christmas here in Nkoranza. They drove up in the truck I used to use – the one that has my butt cheeks sculpted into the driver seat (it seemed like I was in that truck so often – going to this doctor, that hospital, this orthopedist, that other audiologist, etc. – and maybe the beach once or twice – while I was on the camp). And they came with Samuel – a Liberian friend I’ve known for almost 16 years (I've written about him before). He’s just completed his Bachelor’s degree (thanks to all those who helped in this process), his wife and baby boy had just left for Liberia, and Samuel’s plan was to be here for Christmas and New Year, before going back to Accra to make arrangements for the shipping to Liberia of irreplaceable items, and also for arrangements of school records and credentials to be carried.

It's kind of like a "Where's Waldo" Nativity scene - I like it


Christmas day came, along with an 8:00 mass at the “outstation” – the Catholic Church on the hospital compound – just next to PCC grounds. The music is done by the Dagare choir (more on that in the 3rd Christmas blog entry in the near future) – it’s got a nasally tone to the singing, women doing the drumming, and a beautiful xylophone. I so much want to get a xylophone like that – HUGE and with a beautiful sound. Most of the mass is in a language or two that I don’t understand, so mostly I enjoy the music and the daydreaming as my eyes wander outside the window.

Ah, but Christmas day, the French visitors, Samuel and I all went to mass in the morning. And it was nice – a beautiful spirit going on. After communion, men and women started to do a spontaneous dance up to and around the altar area as the Dagare choir sang, drummed and xylophoned. Such a rich feeling.


Then home to a nice Christmas breakfast - complete with french cheeses and sausage, nice coffee with Amarula (a Bailey's type of pleasure), if desired, eggs mixed with yams, some veggies, Laughing Cow - and a small mountain of garlic. Even a few gifts were exchanged. It was great to have visitors - we ended up only being 5 at the table, but it's more than I usually have. And it was as breakfast (or any meal) should be (at least in my mind) - plenty of food, talking, and lingering for 2 1/2 hours.



Christmas Night was another party. A lot of visitors end up coming to PCC over Christmas - so there were extra people at the party. Every party opens with Coco the Clown;





it's an open secret that it's Kofi Asare, one of the older kids here who's dressed up as Coco. He comes out in costume, and starts off the singing and dancing - the opening song is always:


"I am Coco -

Coco, the clown.

I am Coco -

the best clown in town."


And the party continues with Coco the Clown taking on Kofi's role as the Music Master. He's a drumming natural - knows songs by heart and drums and sings them with spirit after only listening once. The rest of us do a shuffle dance in a circle - pushing kids in wheelchairs, carrying kids, or just moving in the spirit.


Evans, who went to the monkey sancutary with me, always ends up pushing Paa Yaw for every dance


And then Father Christmas showed up. He made the rounds of the crowd, greeting everyone. After that, he took his seat, surrounded by three of his favorite elves.

I didn't recognize him at first, but Ayuba, who also went to the monkey sanctuary, was a great Father Christmas


After dinner, Father Christmas called the names of every kid, visitor, caregiver, worker, guest - even Ayuba's name was called - who was there to come up for a gift.



(My favorite gift was the one Ayuba received. I don't have a picture of it yet - but it's a plastic, toy phone - pretty sweet with hidden compartments, magnifying glasses - you name it. Since I've been here, he's frequently been on the "phone" - a small piece of wood, about the size of a cell phone. Now, he's not often far from his new phone.)

Then, more dancing. And Santa rocked.


For me, Claire, her brother and his wife, and Samuel - we ended up back at my place for more wine, french cheese, foie gras and more conversation.

8 Comments:

At 5:42 AM, Blogger Q Schroe said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

 
At 5:43 AM, Blogger Q Schroe said...

That sounds like a wonderful Christmas full of all the best things - food, friends, dancing, more food, music and presents!

It was odd not having you around for our family's Christmas this year, but I'm sure we'll see you again before too long.

Happy new year to you!

 
At 1:27 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nice to see pics of Samuel!

 
At 6:23 PM, Blogger MJ said...

Wow, sounds like not just a very busy Christmas, but a good one. It sure seems funny to have you say that 65F was a little nippy though, especially with what we had. It was interesting to see the different kinds of decorations there and I bet the kids really looked forward to the decorating and had a blast when they could actually start it. Glad to see that you had visitors too, bet it was good to see Samuel again and I'm sure that seeing Claire and getting caught up on things at Buduburam was good.

 
At 5:26 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Steve -- Thanks for sharing this with us and I look forward to reading more!! Happy New Year and all the best to you in 2009. xo Christine

 
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At 1:03 AM, Blogger mps said...

I am behind in reading posts - I just now read this. What a great Christmas, lots of fun and friends!

 
At 9:12 PM, Blogger krampatt said...

Nice pictures Steve. Looks like a great celebration.
Ken Patterson

 

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