In my opinion, the hardest part about being in the Peace Corps is being away for the holidays. The biggest reason for this is being away from family. Don’t get me wrong it is amazing experience another cultures Christmas traditions but it’s hard being away from your family. Christmas has to be my favorite holiday. I love the lights, the music, the decorations, and the giving spirit. Living in Uganda doesn’t have as many decorations or Christmas trees. It has the music and the giving spirit though down pat. I am also able to get Christmas movies to watch each night. Now, all this Christmas spirit cannot happen until after Thanksgiving. Even living in Uganda where they don’t celebrate Thanksgiving.
So the day after Thanksgiving it all began for me. I watched Christmas movies and began listening to Christmas music. Now each night I watch a Christmas movie before going to bed. If I were at home the day after Thanksgiving we would have decorated our house and our Christmas tree. I didn’t decorate my house here which is a bummer than I didn’t. However, I really don’t mind. I will take the Christmas movies and Christmas music and that feels my heart with the Christmas Spirit.
Honestly, to me Christmas is much more than just decorate the house and watching Christmas music, even though without it, it honestly doesn’t feel like Christmas. Although, Christmas is all about Jesus being born and the sacrifice he was destined to make. Through this journey I have gotten a bit lost, but I know where I come from and I know where my beliefs lie, and that is in Jesus and the reason he was born. It’s been hard being here, I have been struggling a lot with my faith, but Christmas helps put my faith together and brings me to my knees in thanksgiving and praise.
However, back to Peace Corps Christmas, it is hard, but you can honestly make the best of it. Getting to know how the locals celebrate, and how they spend their holidays. It’s a great way to experience a new culture, but also share your own culture and traditions with your community and the family you have built here. It makes being away from your family for the holidays a little bit easier. I have an interesting living situation because during holidays I don’t really have any neighbors because they all go home for the holidays, but I have a Peace Corps family and that makes up for it. I also got a lot of opportunity to spend time with my neighbors and teachers during the school year and that was incredible and I have loved building this community.
Despite all that I cannot help how much I miss my family and how much I wish that I was with them during this time. It truly has been a hard year without them, but I wouldn’t have grown as much as I have without this experience. I honestly wouldn’t trade any of this. I will continue to listen to my Christmas music and watch my Christmas movies and experience Christmas this way. I don’t know how other Peace Corps Volunteers experience Christmas but this is how I have experienced mine. I spent Christmas here last year, and I feasted and danced with my host family and it was incredible. Christmas is about love and family, family you create and are born into.
Let me know how you celebrate Christmas, Peace Corps or not.