Christmas with the Masanjas
Family Christmas with my family in Iganga felt the same as family Christmas back at home. Sure there were some differences, but the structure and feel of the whole festivity contained the same core components that makes celebrating this holiday so special to me.
Just like at home…
… It was a huge ordeal with extended family traveling out of their way to celebrate together.
… There was a large special meal prepared.
… There was an open door with friends and anyone else without a celebration welcome to join.
… The little children were running around screaming and drinking bubbly, sugary beverages.
… The youths were up to no good, but stiffened their backs and were extremely respectful when facing the adults.
… An uncle showed up with a home brewed alcohol beverage.
… Some went to church while others stayed back.
Unlike at home…
… We cooked on open fires outside.
… We sat and talked under the shade of the trees.
… The main meal was a late lunch instead of dinner.
… The evening turned into a massive party throughout town.
As one can tell, the only differences seemed to be situational upgrades. Cooking and relaxing outside on a nice sunny day rather than tucked away from the ice and snow outside created a whole new dynamic. Rather than the little kids’ screams and shrieks filling the house, they faded out in the open air. Rather than cooking in a crowded kitchen with well meaning hands getting in the way, only those who knew what they were doing got close enough to the open fires. Rather than enjoying a warm beverage under a blanket after the meal, cold beers were consumed under the cool shade of the trees as the sun went down. Rather than everyone teetering out as sleep consumed them, beers kept flowing till the heavy bass from the music in town motivated them to stumble to the party.
The only addition I’d like to add that doesn’t run parallel to this story is the underlying feel of Christmas in Uganda. In Uganda people talk about where they live and where they are from. Where someone works is usually where they live, but where their family has lived for generations is where they are from. Christmas is all about reconnecting with where you are from with people fleeing the cities and taking the trip “out to the village.” A Christmas is best spent out in your village, with your family, enjoying each others company alongside a hefty meal. For me, this raw celebration of those around me, in the sought out simplest of settings, and without the distractions of my daily toil really made celebrating Christmas a treat this year.
To give you a visual sense of how Christmas day played out, a few photos and captions may tell the story better.