December 24th-26th, 2011
They say the sun dances on Christmas morning.
So I decided last minutes that all I wanted for Christmas was to visit my training host family in Khiza, so I did.
On Christmas Eve it was down pouring and I boarded three different transports for 5 hours, bracing extreme crowds of holiday travelers, and very muddy roads. Normally this would make me real crabby, but it was Xmas Eve and I didn’t get flirted with or hit-on once. I thought the proposals would be much more frequent with the increase in people on the transport but not a single Christmas marriage proposal. I thought for sure at one point a guy was going to spit it out and he surprised me and instead said “Merry Christmas.” That moment made me tear up a bit. Maybe people felt bad that they knew I wasn’t going “home” for Christmas or the holiday really does have magic but everyone was so nice and I didn’t feel like a foreigner that day.
While I wasn’t able to go “home” for Christmas, I have to say I felt like I was at home. My training host family is so welcoming. They moved me right into the main house (not the lonely house I lived in before). I shared the girl’s room just like another daughter, helped make Christmas buns in the wood burning stove, and simply fell into the daily workings of the Mamba household.
Christmas in Swaziland has much less grandeur then in America but it’s the same in many ways. Everyone is home, food is a central part of the celebration and church is attended. There were no stockings hung by the chimney with care but that didn’t take away from the feeling of Christmas.
Christmas Eve we stayed up and watched Harry Potter 4 while we baked the Christmas buns for the next morning. Christmas morning everyone gets up to watch the sun dance as it only does on Christmas morning, or so they say. I wasn’t informed of this little tidbit until after the sun danced its way into morning. I will know to wake up for it next year. We spent the morning preparing food for later. Then we got on our Sunday best and went to Church. Everyone shows up to church in sections (I still don’t know why). Thabo and I went at 11 and as we walked up to the little brick, one room church the familiar sound of Silent Night (in SiSwati) came from the open windows. It was perfect.
Then it was time for food!! The pastor came back to our house and my host brothers braaied (BBQ) up the pig that was slaughtered for the event. We had potato salad (the exact way by mom makes it), beetroot salad, lipalishi, and pork. It was really good! After lunch our church took on another church in the community in a soccer game. The whole community gathered on the soccer pitch and cheered on their teams. Nazereen (my church) won in a shoot out! The evening ended with a walk around Khiza and a call from home. It was a great Christmas!
The next day I got to celebrate my first Boxing Day. This is when the family gives their gifts to each other if they can afford them. This year no gifts were given, but I had brought gifts for everyone and the happiness that filled the room as I handed them out were priceless! It was such a great moment, and they were such tiny gifts but meant so much to the recipients. It was the least I could do for a family who gave me a home for Christmas.