A very merry Peace Corps Christmas

Christmas away from home is never easy — especially away from my home. My mom is like Mrs. Claus herself. When my brother and I were little, she helped us sprinkle “reindeer feed” in our grass, wrote us notes pretending to be Santa and even left a trail of cookie crumbs as evidence he’d visited. Presents were always wrapped in oddly-shaped packages to keep us guessing, and our stockings were filled to the brim. She always gave us a unique ornament that represented the year we had and let us open a gift on Christmas Eve. Even still, she decorates every nook and cranny of the house. A disco star passed down from her childhood Christmases tops our tree while a handmade skirt by great-grandma decorates the bottom. She bakes delicious goodies for days, all while singing along to Christmas carols.

Although it was my third Christmas away from home, this year was especially different since Muslims don’t celebrate the holiday. Until I left my village and met up with other volunteers at the Peace Corps house, I had almost forgotten it was the most wonderful time of the year.

We quickly changed that and got in the spirit. Since my group was in Kombo for a training right before Christmas, we decorated the house and did an “Eight Days of Christmas” countdown featuring baking contests, classic Christmas movie nights and other shenanigans.

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Peace Corps Transit House Christmas Tree!

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Me and Meghan

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My Peace Corps family! Meghan, Bill, Scout, Tim and Mish are my closest friends here.

Then, even more volunteers joined us for the traditional Peace Corps Christmas brunch at our house. Here’s just a sampling of all the food we had:

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Homemade rolls!

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Veggies! We don’t get much of these at site.

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Cheese!

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Quiche and Macaroni and Cheese.

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Apple Crisp.

I am so grateful to be a part of the Peace Corps The Gambia family. I know that in other Peace Corps countries that are larger and have far more volunteers, the network is not nearly as close. It is so special to be in a small country where all of us know each other so well. I can’t imagine not being able to ride my bike or take a quick gelly ride to see my friends.

While it’s difficult to miss out on old traditions, I’m happy to be a part of the ones here. I know that I’ll eventually be home again for Christmas but I only get two here with Peace Corps The Gambia.

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Peace Corps Christmas

–JDF