This year I was waiting for Christmas to come and pass, I was really looking forward to the whole thing going away so I could not be saddened by all the differences of Christmas in Kenya and Christmas in New York and reminded of the fact that I was thousands of miles away from my friends and family.
I am often the one in the family demanding we keep up with traditions ( a real christmas tree, handmade decorations, eggnog, midnight mass, christmas movies etc.) the whole spirit of Christmas is something I love. Each Christmas a feeling comes over me of total happiness, a feeling where I can't help myself but to smile. Advent and the whole season of Christmas has always been a part of that to me so this year I was prepared for disappointment. I was ready to sing "Away in a Manger" to the wrong tune, to sing "Silent Night" in a tshirt, to wake up on Christmas morning in 70 degree weather and to not go to midnight mass.
My Christmas plans were to go to the Christmas Pageant at the Nairobi International Lutheran Church, maybe have Christmas Eve dinner with my fellow YAVs and to go to Phyllis' house for Christmas brunch the next day and then the whole thing would be over.
Around 3p on Christmas eve once I had finished my very minimal Christmas shopping I met Steven and Kathryn to head to the Christmas pageant. Along the way Steven and I spotted two camels walking along the road and joked that they were heading to the pageant. We arrived at the church and were quickly invited to hop into costumes, I was invited to join the Angel chorus but chose to be a shepherd for the benefit of the ears of those watching. Steven and I hopped into costume and walked out only to find the two camels in the church yard. Yes, the christmas pageant featured real livestock- sheeps, cattle and camels! The group of angels, Mary and Joseph, shepherds, wisemen and livestock headed to the front of the church by Ngong road to sing all my favorite christmas songs to the people of Nairobi. Afterwards, we headed inside (I herded my cow in) to begin the actual pageant.
The congregation gathered under the church tent with fans blowing and began the pageant. I said my one line (my first ever speaking part in a Christmas pageant) and we sang the classic songs. Sure enough, in the middle of "O come All Ye Faithful" I had a wide grin painted across my face and couldn't help myself but to wrap my arms around the shoulders of my fellow YAV neighbors and enjoy the spirit of Christmas that did inevitably come to me, all the way in Nairobi. As much as I love the christmas movies, the cheesy music, the decorations and the hot chocolate- it was not any one of those things that brought that overwhelming feeling of happiness to me, it was Christmas itself, in its totally organic form. That amazing feeling did not leave the rest of the Christmas celebration- onto dinner with the YAV family, dinner at Phyllis', secret santa gift exchange, and spontaneous caroling on the couch.