Wednesday, December 10, 2008

A New Perspective On Christmas

I wrote this well before Christmas as you can tell, but forget to send it.


I had another one of those moments here in Africa this week.

I was very excited to be decorating our Christmas tree this year as we were able to borrow our neighbors tree who went home for the holidays. We would actually have a normal size tree this year instead of our small Charlie Brown tree. As I decorated the tree, I was very happy, smiling, adding lights and ornaments while my housekeeper watched Chase (she was holding him so that he would not pull anything off the tree). We starting chatting about the holidays and I asked our housekeeper if they put up a tree in their community. She said normally they get a branch and put some lights on it. The lights they said cost around 200 Kenyan Shillings. This is about 1/3 of what they make in one day and comes to approximately $2.

Of course I felt a little embarrassed. However this is a feeling you get often along with many other emotions living here in Africa. You feel so lucky to have so much but then again, you know they barely have anything. What you begin to realize however is that they are good and happy people (for the most part). They cherish the things they have as well as the opportunities they are given. They do not roll their eyes in hatred at you for having more, they are respectful and honored to be a part of your home, your life, your family.

It has only been a few short months since we have been here, but I have a whole new perspective on the "things" that are important to us; of course our family, our health and our safety. It is now that I am take a second look at those little things that I thought seemed so important. At the end of the day, the month, the year, you wonder why did I need that and why was that "thing" so significant in my life? After moving as often as we have in such a short period of time, you have these moments a lot. However, now all those moments take on a different meaning. Please do not misunderstand what I am saying. We will keep many souvenirs from our travels and hold on to many precious moments of our life, and of course, if any of you know me well enough, we will keep many many pictures. But I think it is going to make me thing twice about holding on to things and continue to think twice about those less fortunate than myself.

This place, after only 5 months, will continue and will always make a lasting impression on the way I look at life and its values. And I am sure many people can empathize as they realize that today our lives are different than we thought and our future will be different than we might have imagined. But the important things in life are not "things", they are our family, our friends, our health, and our happiness with one another. This is the meaning of life.

I will celebrate a wonderful Christmas this year with my family and also my Mom who is coming out in just a few days. I will have presents for my Mom and my husband, presents for the children and Santa will of course come to our home. And you know what... I will enjoy every single second! But it will still be different because of my short time here in Africa. I will think more about those that will not have this kind of a day and will think less about what else I could have gotten the kids. I will enjoy in what the true meaning of Christmas is; the sacrifices that have been made for me and my family, the joy of life itself and the celebration of each other.

Merry Christmas!

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