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Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Do They Know Its Christmas Time? (Yes, They Do.)

Happy Holidays, Seasons Greetings, and Krismasi Njema to all the fine followers of this blog! Another Christmas season spent in Tanzania, and while I occasionally miss the cool weather, the spirit of the season, and the ever popular sweaters*, it is a refreshing, wonderful experience not to be all caught up in the shopping/buying/spending/extravagance that Christmas usually becomes.

* And of course, the seasonal hot beverages, Christmas cookies, and non-stop Christmas music. But those are second tiered misses. :)

Because it is now Summer here in the Southern Hemisphere, and I live next door to the Sun (or so it feels like), it has been really hard to wrap my mind around the concept of Christmas. Even though my FAMILY is coming NEXT week and we are traveling, doing all the fun touristy things I can't usually afford, and spending Christmas EVE and DAY in my village, with my lovely friends. I'm more than excited, and I'm pretty sure every single person I come across in the village knows. Its been 13 months now, and I feel like a kid whose parents are coming at the end of summer camp. Except I'll be staying after they leave again. But still, the effect is the same. :) I believe the planning is all set (or as set as it can be in Tanzania...let's just say everything  runs at its own pace here. I am just so excited to share what has become my home for the last year with my family. And also to see them not bathe and live with out electricity for a few days. muahahaha. All teasing aside, it will be a wonderful way to spend my 2nd Christmas in Tanzania.

So, to prep and get in the Christmas-y spirit, I've been trying to listen to my recently created Christmas playlist on my Ipod (since sweater wearing and hot cocoa drinking are pretty much out with the 90 degrees with 100% humidity). In prepping for TZ, I added about 10 Christmas songs to my playslist (great planning, Chels), of which 3 are "I'll be Home For Christmas" (again, GREAT planning, Chels. Not a hard song to hear around teh holidays 8000 miles away). Of course there is the other classics, The Christmas Song, Felix Navidad, and All I want for Christmas is you (hahah). And then there is the ever popular, mid 80's classic, "Do They Know Its Christmastime?" Which I used to really enjoy. But as I say listening to the words of the song (yes, I know it was made to raise awareness, and for a good cause), but the words are really kind of off. Granted, I know the writers of the song were probably not talking about Tanzania, so I shouldn't neccissarily judge it against here, but even for other parts of Africa, it seems off. For instance, "where nothing ever grows, no rain or rivers flow, " seems a bit harsh. But the line that really got to me is "The greatest gift they'll get this year is life." Which I know, they are trying to help the disenfranchised, starving people in this song, but still, Isn't life the greatest gift any of us will get? Is a new IPad or who knows whatever new technology (I've been out of the loop). The real message we should be sending out is this to everybody, life is a gift and blessing. And yes, the people here realize it...as the song goes "Do they know its Christmastime at all?" Sure, there are no pine trees (artificial or otherwise), stuffed Santas, porcelain nativity scenes, or any other of the many "Christmasy things" we are used to, but yes, even people with out cable, landlines, and gasp, the internet!, know it is Christmastime. And while the celebrations may seem simple and plain compared to our elaborate feasts, they are still celebrations, and celebrating the special day with family and friends, sharing food, and fellowship are the main acts of the day. Even for those not going to church (which in TZ means they are Muslim...its literally one or the other), they can still enjoy the holiday. While I don't know all the trappings of a Christmas in the village (this will be my first, the last one was in Dar), I was here for the Iddi (Eid),the end of Ramadan  the huge Muslim Holiday, and Christians and Muslims alike were able to celebrate together in the spirit of fellowship (i'm sure not ALL Christians do, but I was invited to many a party, and perhaps others were too). So while they may not watch "Its a Wonderful Life" or "Merry Christmas, Charlie Brown!" (Both my favorites!), the people of Tanzania DO know its Christmastime, and I can't wait to celebrate the day with my Family and my village friends. Not to say we won't bring a little American Christmas to the village (lets just say Selha may be getting baby sunglasses!), but we can also enjoy Christmas from the Tanzania perspective. And maybe that's the best gift we can get this year. Besides Life.

Merry Christmas, Happy Hannukah, Seasons Greeting, Happy New Year! Love and Hugs to all in 'Merika!



  1. Wow, Chels, you really hit the nail on the head this time. That's how I feel about coming to see you at Christmas, and seeing you is the best gift I could ever ask for right now. Beautiful blog. Only nine more days until I see you!!!! Love you, hon. XOXOXOX

  2. It is eleven days until Christmas here today. We want you to remind Mrs. Hand to bring us a monkey. Hope you have a merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Thank you for taking our teacher off of our "hands." Haha!! Love, the Seventh and Eighth grade