Easily the two hardest things about spending nine months in Senegal are missing people, and missing the Christmas season in all of its glory back home. I dearly miss ice skating, the heart-fluttering magic of icy nights that smell of cinnamon and snow, and twinkle lights that festively frost the trees on every winding street with an easy elegance that simply begs for a sleigh ride. I miss the
sweet thrill of the Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairies in The Nutcracker, warm woolen pea coats and the smell of caramel apple cider wafting through the kitchen. I miss oversized Christmas trees that smell of pine just dripping with antique ornaments, garland draped over anything that will stand still and the garish red and green bows I’ve always insisted on as the finishing flourish to every gift I wrap.
I’m that girl. The girl that cheats and starts listening to Christmas music as soon as the first over-eager radio disc-jockey decides that it’s finally time to Deck the Halls again! The girl that refuses to eat a cookie that’s not in the
shape of a reindeer, snowman or Christmas tree for the duration of November and December, and simply cannot
fathom drinking a steaming
mug of hot chocolate without a candy cane swizzle stick. [And goodness, why on earth would you?] I’m the girl that adamantly refuses to watch anything but Christmas movies from Thanksgiving night to Christmas night. Give me Bing Crosby crooning
“White Christmas” and Anthony Hopkins recounting how “every Who down in Whoville, the tall and the small, was singing without any Christmas at all!”, and nothing else could possibly appeal!
Recognizing that I will indeed only be home for Christmas in my dreams again this year, my sweet friends decided to throw Christy, Ted and I a Christmas-themed goodbye party several weeks ago! [Blissfully, the word “goodbye” was nowhere to be found that night. “Merry Christmas” is so much happier, don’t you think?]
It was breathtaking. Absolute magic. Under the guidance of Gretchen Pegram [only the single most wildly creative human being on the planet], several of my friends managed to turn her little apartment into the winter wonderland I’m missing two years in a row! Gretchen found at least three different
Christmas trees, hung our stockings with care over a construction-paper fireplace, whipped up enough of the Christmas-themed foods that I daydream about in Senegal to feed a small third-world country, played all of my favorite Christmas
songs, …and even made fake snow.
Be still my beating heart.
How sweet are my friends?