Christmas here is a serious holiday in Ghana…serious in that it lasts for days and days! The preparations are festive and much is celebrated around food, as most of us would recognize.
It is almost magical to see the streets and markets fill with live chickens and roosters, caged for the shoppers to purchase for Christmas dinners! Everyone is shopping! Small personal items, clothes, dishes and pots & pans are on display for shoppers. There is even a young man selling a live baby alligator along the side of the road…maybe someone’s appetizer?
Even in the ShopRite, the grocery store for Westerners and Ghanaians alike, there are one or two frozen turkeys. Two days before Christmas the store is packed and items are sold out. No butter! Syambra makes a special trip to Koala Store (a very expensive grocery store in Osu) to find butter and even a little jar of cranberry jam, the closest we have to cranberry sauce.
Magic is in the air and children are excited! This is a very busy time for our women entrepreneurs as well. They must have inventory for the shoppers! Many have requested loans just for the holiday inventory.
Seems like everyone knows about “Christmas Bonuses”! The taxi drivers, those guys we use regularly to get from home to work every day, have reminded me about their Christmas Bonus! I have prepared envelopes for those who I have developed a relationship for service:
• The “Taxi Boys” – a trio who have provided me (us) transportation back and forth to the office (more about these guys later) – 30 Ghana cedes (about $20) – to be divided 3 ways.
• My office “Neighbors” downstairs – they operate a cement store – and whenever the taxi arrives, they rush to carry my heavy files, backpack and packages upstairs. They are also helpful in filling my pail with sand for my kitty litter. Two envelopes, 10 Ghana cedes each.
• My office “Neighbors” behind us – two ladies who share their compost toilets for the ladies in our office. Two envelopes, 10 Ghana cedes each.
• Joyce, my house cleaner. I would be LOST without Joyce! She comes to clean every Saturday and the windows, floors, counters, rugs, bathrooms all sparkle when she is done! One envelope, 10 cedes.
• Michael, my gardener. Michael is fairly new to our list and he cuts the grass (with a blade, not a mower), pulls weeds and waters the grass and plants (when we have water!). One envelope, 10 cedes.
Now, our first year in Ghana makes the need for Christmas decorations very expensive! I gave Syambra a choice of a tree OR lights! She immediately chose lights (which I was surprised). So lights it was! (Purchased at ShopRite for an arm and a leg.)
Christmas Eve I was completely surprised when Syambra gave me individual drawings of Christmas trees from each student in her class! That was a lot of fun and we displayed them on the alcove in our home. Clearly a place for Santa to leave Christmas presents!
Matthew, Syambra & I celebrated with gifts on Christmas Day. Key presents: Matthew received a mirror (so he could shave!), I received a neat fabric desk organizer (made by the Global Mammas, a Foundation here showcasing work by Ghanaian women), plus some instant coffee from the U.S., and Syambra received a manicure set (clippers, nail brush) a video from me and a book from Matthew.
Turkey dinner including dressing, garlic mashed potatoes, cocoa leaves (looks and tastes like spinach), and yes, our cranberry jam topped the Christmas meal!
I had invited Joyce for dinner and she not only enjoyed our cooking but helped in cleaning up…a gift I appreciated!
We all then watched the video “The Help”. I saw that the DVD was available in the U.S. and asked Matthew to bring it with him. We set up the projector and watched as we sat in a line of plastic chairs, theater style. I was trying to explain the context of the movie to Joyce, explaining that the movie takes place when I was a young girl (50’s and 60’s) before Martin Luther King stood for Civil Rights. “Do you know who Martin Luther King was?” “No.”
Hope you enjoy the pictures!