I will definitely miss my family this Holiday Season. Traditions of the United States such as stringing Christmas lights on homes and streets in communities, wrapping presents to be set under an evergreen Christmas tree, and sending and receiving Christmas cards, I have not noticed here in my little village of Damango, Ghana.
Traditions that my Slovak family observe will definitely be missed. There will be no Christmas Eve meal including pagach, oblatki, pierogis, and kolachi here in Damongo. The Slovakian Dance group will not be performing here at the Cathedral, and the First Catholic Slovak Union will not hold their Stede Vecer here in the Diocese hall.
I will miss all these events terribly. However, being here during this Christmas Season as well as the next two Christmas Seasons I will be able to adopt new traditions.
One part of Christmas I would hate to miss out on is having a Christmas tree. There are no evergreens here in Damongo, or even trees that resemble an evergreen. Therefore, with stems from bushes that grow near my bungalow and two containers of dental floss I made my own tree.
I had no idea how my crazy idea of making a tree would end up, or that I could actually do it at all, but as you see from the pictures I did it! Sitting in my living room, called a hall here in Damongo, sits my tree. I saw Christmas lights about a month ago in a store two hours from here and bought them thinking I would hang them on a wall, or a door frame, just to be able to have some sort of Holiday spirit. My little friend Anne helped me construct the tree. Without her I never would have finished.
What I did not realize was the reaction I would get from those who saw my creation. It is so fulfilling to see the looks on faces of those seeing a lit tree for the first time. We in the United States take things for granted. Something as simple as a tree with lights is an amazement to people here.
There are similarities between Ghanaian Christians and American Christians when it comes to celebrating Christmas. We both prepare ourselves for the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ during the season of Advent; the “Coming” of our Lord. During this Season we both take the time to reflect on the true meaning of Christmas. Diane, my fellow missionary, and roommate, already decided we would attend both the Midnight Mass – THE ANGELS’ MASS, as well as the Christmas Day Mass – THE KINGS MASS. What will happen next we do not know. Will we be invited to gatherings for special meals? Will there be a community gathering? That is yet to be seen. What we do know is that we have been preparing ourselves for Christs’ coming, and that he will come, he has come, and that is what the Season is all about.