Saturday, January 30, 2010


If home really is where your heart is then I spent this Christmas both away from home for the first time and at home for the first time in Besao. I must admit, I was not looking forward to Christmas without my family, snow, and meme’s mashed potatoes. I told myself, “just let the day pass by as if it were any other day.” I figured if I took that approach that Christmas would come and go in the blink of an eye and I wouldn’t have to feel like I missed out on being home. Well, amazing things can happen when you lower your expectations! We started Christmas on December 15th. For ten days before Christmas the Episcopalians here have sunrise mass everyday at 5am. They call it Mesa de Gallia. Not sure if they have it in the U.S., but I know I never went. It was a beautiful new approach to understanding the meaning of Christmas. There was no mention of Santa Clause, presents were rarely given and never expected. It was delightfully simplistic. By Christmas Eve all of the family members living in the cities were home in the province and the one road in Besao resembled a grand parade. The congregation put on plays, danced, sang, and shared food until the wee hours of the morning that Christmas Eve.We warmed ourselves with bonfires, the sharing of old memories, and tapoy (rice wine). Then, just as soon as it seemed as if all of Kin-iway was asleep, the church bells were ringing again for us to gather for the Eucharist. After mass we went around to the houses of all of our friends. We ate and ate and ate some more and enjoyed the beautiful 75 degree weather that is unheard of on Christmas day in Missouri. I may never again wear a t-shirt and flip-flops on December 25th but I will feel warm inside knowing that somewhere far away in a little village called Besao someone is doing just that.
Melanie West Goes...Christmas

1 comment:

  1. I can totally relate to your experience with Christmas, and I too was pleasantly surprised. I'm so glad you had a special one and I know you will never forget it.
    Love you girl!