…and that’s because, on December 25, it wasn’t — not in Ethiopia (more on that later). Luckily, I escaped with a few friends to a little slice of America: a clinic in the town of Chiri (which I insisted on spelling “Cheery”) staffed by four Americans, including a couple that has two adorable toddlers. The compound features a main house, with a kitchen, huge living/dining room, and bathroom with a hot shower. The doctor, nurse, and two management folks (with their daughters) live in little cottages surrounding the main house, and they set their female guests up in a fourth cottage. The boys were stuck on mattresses on the floor of the main house.
When we arrived on Saturday, we were treated to a Mediterranean-style lunch, with pita, hummus, salad, and taziki sauce. After relaxing and crafting a bit, we took our turn at preparing a meal: burritos with refried beans, meat, cheese, homemade tortillas, rice, guac, and salsa. We kept asking questions like, “So where do we get water?” — um, from the sink with running water. “Where should we put the leftovers?” — in the fridge, you savages. Duh.
The men of our group prepared Christmas breakfast - crepes with a slew of toppings, Starbucks coffee, eggs, and bacon. We set off on a Christmas Day hike to a gorgeous waterfall, then came back to find one of our hosts had made a hearty soup with leftovers from the previous day’s meals.
Then we showered. The water was hot.
(Those of you who live with running water don’t understand why that was its own paragraph. Just…it was amazing.)
Christmas dinner was an American-style spread, with a roast chicken, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, green beans, stuffing, deviled eggs, and all the other usual holiday fixins. Our hosts invited some of their Ethiopian friends to join us, and we spent a cozy evening eating, drinking, and being merry.
I found myself missing my family whenever things felt most like America — when we watched It’s a Wonderful Life on Christmas Eve, when I was playing with the little girl who reminds me of my cousin Kristine’s daughter, or when we were eating Christmas dinner and drinking red wine. But for the most part, with the gorgeous weather and complete absence of people I’d known for longer than 6 months, it didn’t really feel like Christmas, and so I didn’t really miss home too much at all.