Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Christmas at Bethany

Christmas at Bethany House – this year felt almost like a “traditional” Christmas (minus the snow and cold and turkey and Christmas tree and carols and eggnog and. . . ). The feeling was . . . traditional. Several of the Hope for Life members were staying at the house. There was also a Hope for Life visitor from our branch in Tamale (a city, the 3rd largest in Ghana, in the northern part of Ghana – there’s a HFL branch there, but it’s mostly an independent branch that we try to visit once every year or two), another visitor from Benin/Nigeria (he’s Nigerian, but has lived and worked in Benin for several years and considers himself Beninois), and a few Liberians around. A wonderful mix of people helping to cook, have fun, mix drinks, choose movies, etc.

About a week before Christmas I delegated (one of the skills I’m very happy to possess and to be developing more and more as time goes on) the responsibilities of planning some kind of special menu for Christmas (and it turns out that was understood to include Boxing Day, the day after Christmas, which is also a big holiday here – I think possibly even bigger than Christmas). I also delegated the responsibility of planning some fun games/activities for everyone. And happily, a donation was available to help with the extra food and drink. Everyone did a great job planning it out and doing the marketing, and then throughout the day(s), helping with the preparation in the kitchen – food from the north, food from the south, Liberian food, Benin food, and Nigerian food.

Turns out the activities planned never took place, though. Someone had lent a DVD player to the house, and it seemed that a movie was always on and different people were watching at different times. We watched about 4 of the Child’s Play movies, ai yai yai (traditional Christmas? actually, I saw a comment it's one of the top 10 scariest Christmas movies), and several of the Saw series (oh my). When a few children were around and started watching – and another Chucky/Child's Play was to start – I suggested we change it and watch some children’s Christmas kind of show – and ran for my Rudolph. [Two nights before, while fulfilling the request made by Fr. Christmas - better known as Santa, in the US - to help prepare some bracelets made from Ghanaian beads (a not-so-complicated skill I learned while at PCC) that had been purchased from our (PCC’s) Accra bead and lock supplier-lady (Aunty Lizzie), I watched Rudolph. Then, the night before, while helping Fr. Christmas to wrap the bracelets – each package included a bar of soap! Wow! – I watched It’s a Wonderful Life with Jethro.] As Rudolph began and Burle Ives started singing, the room gradually cleared of adults, but the children were periodically interested. So many foreign images and ideas in it, though – it seems like such a bizarre thing here – it all takes place in snow and ice, elves, cold, abominable snowmen, Christmas trees, talking snowmen – or, just plain any kind of snowmen! – jack-in-the-boxes that have names other than Jack, which doesn’t even matter here because no one is named Jack or the other name and most people have never seen a Jack-in-the-Box . . . anyway. I think the kids still enjoyed the music, the images, the animals, etc.

Then, it was back to Chucky.

Jethro was there with his wife and daughter, all three of them at different stages of moving on from the loss of Ephraim earlier this year. Benedict was there, cooking one of my favorite Liberian meals (potato greens and rice) on Boxing Day. Alice, one of my favorite people, was there, helping to keep the house running and helping me to wash the dishes (she has a visual impairment – mostly blind, in fact – and years ago I had the honor of being the first person to ever take her into the ocean, in spite of her having grown up on the coast. She couldn’t accept the fact that every time a wave came it wasn’t me pushing the water onto her, in spite of me trying to convince her of how waves work and holding both her hands when a wave would come. There’ll be a blog entry on her at some point in the near future – she’s wonderful, and she’s struggling to survive these days . . . anyway, will be explained in a future blog.)

This was our Christmas: good friends, laughter, special food, time together, old memories talked about, new memories made, and shared love. I hope you all had the same.

(My camera is somehow missing – so, I thank Benedict for accepting my request to document the day(s) with his camera-phone. You might be wondering, um, so . . . where are these photos? Sadly, not very long ago, but before I got the Christmas pictures from him, his phone picked up some kind of virus and all photos got lost as the camera phone was reformatted.)


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