An Interesting Christmas

International development work has it perks for sure, but one of its downfalls is that you are often away from your loved ones for quite some time and are out of the loop with what is going on back at home. I try not to dwell on what I am missing and try and live in the present, soaking up as much of this experience as I can, but there are times when it is difficult. I’m sure we have all been there and being away from my family for Christmas was one of those times for me. For some, missing Christmas may not be a big deal, but in my family, it is probably the biggest event of the year. There is tons of food, music, and it really is the only time family from all over the globe can be together. This was my first Christmas away from home.

Canadian-Christmas-breakfast-complete-with-Canadian-maple-syrup
Our Canadian Christmas breakfast, complete with Canadian maple syrup!

Thankfully, (in ways) work was hectic, so I really did not have much time to think about it and before I knew it, Christmas was only days away. It was strange for Clara and I – we were not only in a tropical climate away from home, but Ethiopia does not celebrated Christmas the same time we do. They celebrate Orthodox Christmas, which is about two weeks later, so not much was going on for our Christmas. With that being said, we still tried to make the best of it. We decorated our home with Christmas lights and ornaments, and blasted Christmas songs while at home. We both managed to get Christmas Eve and Christmas Day off, so we had time to relax and watch an abundance of Christmas movies.

MEDA-Christmas-celebration-with-Frosty-and-Rudolph
MEDA Christmas celebration with Frosty and Rudolph!

On Christmas day, our work invited us for a special Christmas coffee ceremony and even gave us adorable Christmas buddies (a reindeer and a snowman). I truly appreciated their effort to make our Christmas as special as they could for us, especially since it wasn’t their own Christmas. Even though we were far away from home, it helped to be around friends.

Perhaps the highlight of the day (besides saying Merry Christmas to our family back at home) was going to the movie theatre to watch the new Hobbit movie! Clara and I did a marathon that week and were ecstatic that it was actually showing at the movie theatre here. We thought it was a pretty great way to spend Christmas.

Even though I was not with back at home with my family this Christmas, I wouldn’t say I was alone. MEDA and Clara were my family this year and I am so grateful to have celebrated Christmas with them. It is times like these that you really appreciate the relationships you’ve created and realize that family can come in different forms.

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas and New Year’s. Thank you to everyone who made mine special and unforgettable.

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  • Stephanie Puras

    Stephanie was a Communication and Program Support Intern at MEDA and has an undergraduate degree in Global Studies from Wilfrid Laurier University and is a postgraduate certificate in International Development from Humber College. She was born in Toronto, Ontario and has grown up in Oakville, Ontario. Stephanie has a wide range of interests within international development. In 2012, she spent three months working in Ghana with The Ark Foundation, an organization specializing in women’s rights and empowerment.
    She was also selected to participate in a United Nations Conference on the Post 2015 Millennium Development Goals in New York City this past February. Furthermore, she has spent the past five years volunteering with Free the Children and has worked on a number of their campaigns. Stephanie loves to travel and is very passionate about helping others as well as learning about different cultures. She is very excited and grateful for the opportunity to be a part of MEDA and work with the EDGET program in Ethiopia.

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