This Christmas I decided that I was going to spend it in Meiganga with my friends versus in Ngaoundere, regional capital, with other Peace Corps Volunteers. I am glad I did because this was honestly one of the better Christmases I have had.
It started a week before Christmas. There were kids throughout the week going house to house caroling. Before I knew what was going on, around 7pm a group of 20 kids come into our compound. I got scared, ran inside and closed my door. Then I realized that they were singing “Jingle Bells” to my landlord's family in Gbaya; so I opened my door to watch. After they were done they all came to my house. One kid in the back yelled, “She doesn't know Gbaya! Sing in French!” So I got the French version of “Jingle Bells.” They were dancing, using water jugs as drums, and having a great time!
I realized on the 25th that Christmas in Cameroon is like our Thanksgiving. It is a time to be with family, have fun and EAT! And boy did I do that! The day before the boys helped me make monkey bread and cinnamon rolls which is a tradition in the Nicolai household. Then we made lots and lots of chocolate cupcakes! Christmas night I gave a bag of goodies to Mrs. Doko to set out for the kids. I was told Papa Noel was dead, so I wanted to prove them wrong! In the morning, it took the boys over an hour to realize that there were presents on the table. After they all came to my house to say thank you, but I explained that it was Papa Noel. They all just smiled and their parents laughed.
I got up earlier than normal to bake the monkey bread and cinnamon rolls. I wanted them to be ready for us to enjoy before everyone left for church. When they came back home from church we started eating again and we ate until the sun went down. Where I live kids are given one big plate of food outside; they all sit around it and eat together using their hands. Well its not just the kids, its families as well, but on holidays adults use separate plates. So I started eatting at the Doko's then went to Fanta and Bourdier's house afterward. (Fanta and Bourdier are my close friends in Meiganga.) They were doing renovations to their house so they moved all the couches outside and that’s where we ate. Once I was done there, I went back to my house to eat some more. Throughout the day everyone kept giving me red wine to drink starting at 10am. I needed a break before I had dinner, so I was able to fit in a little nap in between.
I ended the night with Mr. Doko, Fanta and Bourdier at the bar discussing life, funny stories, differences in Christmas in the states. This Christmas made me realize how much I love and cherish who I am surrounded by in Meiganga. There were no presents exchanged, no one was expecting anything. It was a refreshing reminder of what Christmas should be; being with friends and family.
Eneta and I
Kids eating outside
Eating on the couches at Fanta and Bourdier's