( I wrote this on Christmas Day, but haven’t been able to upload till now.)
So we made it to Christmas day. The last few days, maybe a week, have been tiring. I realise just how exhausted I have been, with the energy spent settling us in, learning all that is new, and working six days a week, negotiating boundaries when there is so much need, all around us. I felt a bit homesick and melancholy for a few days and it was a difficult feeling to shake off.
But today has been wonderful. Such a happy Christmas, and a perfect mixture of holding on to family tradition, and finding new ways just fitting for today. So without any deep analysis or reflection, here is an account of our lovely day.
It turns out that Father Christmas can still reach an area that is ‘hard to reach’’ – the girls were optimistic he would manage, and relieved to find that he had made the journey by night. He delivered some lovely bags, filled with goodies and unusual treats (including a Mars bar.) It turns out that his policy these days is to locally source presents for stockings as part of his commitment to a greener environment.
We spent a lovely slow few hours giving and receiving gifts. We closed our front door (something that is almost never done here) so we had some family time and we listened to the choir of Clare College sing haunting songs. The girls got dresses, made by local tailors and books found in the fantastic bookshop in Kampala (A critique of international trade arrangements for Brian and a book about Reptiles and Amphibians for Miss A.)
Then our neighbours told us that it was time for the children’s party at the river. Children of hospital staff were invited. It was hot, so we carried chipatis, sodas, roasted potatoes, popcorn, floor mats and an inflatable dinghy along the river to the swimming place and set up a picnic, as our little neighbour cried excitedly ‘’ We are at the beach, we are at the beach.’’ Even Miss A, usually a bit hesitant about cold water, flung herself in with much happiness, and little Roo – well, she was in splashing heaven.
We left the party just before the heavens opened, so we scampered back along the river bank, through the tea plantation and across the wooden bridge as the rain pelted on us and made us laugh.
Dry and rested, we made our way to supper with our American friends, who had invited all those far from home for a Christmas evening meal. There was abundant food, and wonderful company, and even, Christmas crackers. These had been carefully made by the children with old toilet rolls wrapped in beautiful paper and ribbons, and filled with trinkets and jokes about snow and snowmen.
A lovely end to a very happy day. I hope yours was too.