Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Christmas in Mokhotlong

Being away from home over the holidays is always strange and that, coupled with my first December summer, made the approaching Christmas season feel a bit surreal. However, we started off our holiday weekend with the staff Christmas party on Thursday and all of the singing, dancing, gift-giving, and feasting infused me with ample Christmas cheer. Add a Christmas Eve bonfire, some holiday baking, and a wonderful Christmas meal at the Lephoto’s and it turned out to be a great holiday.

It is interesting to celebrate a major holiday in another country, and impossible to refrain from noting the similarities and differences to the customs and celebrations I am familiar with in the U.S. I’ll share with you some of my observations:

Differences:

- Since Electricity is still somewhat of a novelty in Mokhotlong, you do not find the streets lined with lit trees or colorful electric displays of Santa and reindeer in people’s front yards. In fact, the lead up to the holiday seems almost nonexistent (from my isolated foreigner's perspective, anyway). Though opulent Christmas displays do usually get one in the Christmas spirit, I think America might place more importance on all that Christmas hype than the day itself so in some ways it is refreshing to experience a refined holiday - Christmas just as Christmas.

- Christmas Dinner.

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<-- In the United States





In Lesotho -->




Similarities:

- Basotho and Americans alike tend to leave Christmas shopping until the last minute. Rachel and I went to Pep (a store in Mokhotlong that sells… everything?) an hour before it closed on Christmas Eve to buy marshmallows for the aforementioned bonfire and had to stand in line for nearly a half an hour to get to the register! It was kind of a madhouse in there.

- Families in Lesotho love Christmas celebrations like the rest of us, and they splurge on Christmas also. They don’t have credit cards to max out at the mall though. Instead, they "dip into their savings" by using most of their food rations, namely maize meal, for Christmas celebrations. I have been told that this celebration makes January a particularly hungry month for many families here. TTL, thanks to generous donations made by local organizations, is giving families more food than is in their usual monthly package this December in hopes that giving food to use for Christmas celebrations will limit food shortages in January.

Like so much of my experience at TTL, the holiday reminded me yet again how fortunate we are in North America to have so much - so much family, so much food, so much of everything really.

Merry Christmas to all of our TTL supporters! Thank you for your generosity and attention to our cause. We are so blessed to have such a strong network of support. We wish you the happiest of holidays.


Cooking mutton for the staff Christmas braai.

Gift exchange at the Christmas party - involved a lot of singing and dancing.


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