June 23rd, 2012
In honor of winter, Jesus’ half birthday, and of course just a reason to come together and eat food, Swaziland PCVs converged to celebrate Christmas in June.
We booked out our home away from home, Bambasoes Backpackers in Mbabane, and made a gigantic Christmas meal for 60 using one oven and two half functional stovetops. Well I didn’t personally make any of the food because the electricity to the kitchen had been blown out by the time I arrived. Thankfully my fellow volunteers had been hard at work all day so my uncooked mashed potatoes weren’t a huge loss.
I arrived with just enough time to change into my holiday outfit, complete with elf hat (Thanks Kathy Bosse), for the white elephant gift exchange. Since we are all poor, but really creative, we decided anyone could either bring a gift of something in their hut they didn’t want, something that was homemade, or spend no more then E20 on a gift (that is about $2.50). We played the number game where you get a number and go in numeric order to pick a wrapped gift out of the pile; any player down the line can then steal a gift rather then pick from the pile. Each gift can only be stolen twice however, and if your gift is stolen you get to pick another out. I put in a homemade painting of an elephant (thanks to the art supplies Mariah sent me), and at first got the ever so popular “I Love Jesus” ball cap that is very fashionable here in Swaziland. Unfortunately that gift was quickly stolen as it instantly ups your cool factor in the Swazi community. I ended up with a magic set and had a lot of fun participating. People got really creative with gifts. We had a hand-knitted hat, a homemade candle, vouchers for airtime (cell phone minutes), a large pumpkin, even a box of not so fresh take-away food, which I think was never claimed lol.
The feast we had was amazing, with lots of traditional holiday dishes from home. Mmmm comfort food! Plus gluten free chocolate cake for dessert and a spiked holiday punch that made everyone’s cheeks glow rosy red. Picnic tables were pulled out onto the patio and Christmas lights, garland, stockings, mistletoe, and fake snow (contributed by yours truly) gave the place lots of Christmas cheer. Holiday music serenaded the festivities and it oddly felt just like Christmas. Only downside was waking up the next morning and realizing that it’s actually June and there is no upcoming New Years Eve Party to keep your spirits high. But… there is Fourth of July. God Bless America for having so many reasons to celebrate life! Word in the Kingdom is this year we are getting hot dogs!!!!