Sunday, December 12, 2010


Christmas is obviously a special time. Last year, I told you about the Christmas tree ritual at my parents' house. I gave you recipes for Christmas food. I insisted on how cold it was in Warsaw. I felt the crunching of snow under my feet. None of this is going to happen this year, though. Christmas 2010 is special in a different way - it is the first Christmas I will spend away from home.

As you grow older, you become more and more detached from your parents - a natural process which I really do not object to. I moved out of my parents' house and went to live abroad over three years ago. We are still very close but, clearly, we don't see each other very often. However, I would always come home for Christmas. Up till now. And of course, I miss my Mom and Dad.

But the things I'm going to miss this year are many. Take the weather, for instance. Is it possible that Christmas is coming, when it's 30 degrees outside? Is it possible to spend Sunday, 12 December, at the beach? It should get dark at 4 pm, it should be white all around, and it should be cold. Freezing, so that you can sit in your cosy living room, lit up by the Christmas lights, and have hot tea.

And then the Christmas decorations around the city. Of course, Libreville is doing its best. There is a Christmas tree made of lights (similar to the one in Warsaw, but it lights up as the Gabonese flag), which has been blocking one of the most important crossroads in the city centre for over a month. Gabonese style, it is still in three parts, waiting patiently to be assembled. The street lamps sport decorations, too. But no, it's not the same.

Moreover, Christmas spirit does not exist. The three supermarkets have been decorated in a dull, sad way, and the black Santa with an extremely fake white beard has been spotted in various places, usually in the process of staring into a TV. Yes, in Europe you are surrounded by annoying pop-adaptations of carols everywhere, but they do the trick. You feel that, as Billy Mack would say, Christmas is indeed all around.

And, finally, the ultimate sign of Christmas: the Christmas tree. Supermarkets are filled with ugly fake trees. I hate ugly fake trees. The Christmas tree is supposed to smell like the forest and gingerbread. It gives you the warm fuzzy feeling, which only lasts a little while but fills you with hope and joy and happiness. A living, scented, fuzzy-feeling-giving joy-bringer, if you will. A fake ugly tree has no such powers. Ergo, I didn't get one.

Instead, I occupied a couple of my lonely evenings (Jandro is still away) with designing and producing my special African Christmas... conical fishing basket (the exact translation of the French word nasse, brought to you by the irreplaceable wordreference). You see, we've had our decorative nasse (please don't make me say conical fishing basket) for a long time and, following the suggestion of my brilliant French teacher, I decided to make it into a Christmas tree. I made balls out of the African fabrics, I used tinsel and some ready-made decorations, partly from Africa (bought locally in a cute yet expensive shop), partly from... the Philippines, the latter generously donated by a Malaysian friend (for which I hereby issue a public thank you). The effect is visible in the photos. I'm rather proud of myself.

So, what is the conclusion? If you are expecting a final wail, I am happy do disappoint you. As I said, the Christmas spirit is mostly absent and my tree happens to be a conical fishing basket. However (and thank goodness for the however!), I still have so many things to be excited about:
  1. I get to spend Christmas with my boyfriend. For the first time.
  2. I have just started our own collection of Christmas decorations. (Again, the boyfriend factor.) I find it romantic. Call me sentimental, see if I care.
  3. We have been invited chez our friends for dinner on 24 December, and it makes me very happy to think that we've met people on whom we can count on such a special day.
  4. We have decided to spend Christmas Day with the Arc En Ciel kids, and take them to the beach, games and picnic included. I'm looking forward to that, too. I'm suddenly a big fan of sharing, which - careful! - might make me a better person.
As Joey would say, Christmas is the time of loving and sharing, and giving, and receiving. And this is exactly what I intend to do, as it applies regardless of the latitude, temperature and availability of fresh pines. Here's my wish for Christmas 2010: may all of us discover the Christmas spirit that lives inside!

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