Christmas means something different now. It means grand adventures and ridiculous stories. Whereas Christmas used to mean tradition and family, now it represents an opportunity to make new memories with both family and friends.
Before Peace Corps I never dreamed of breaking from tradition. While I still love Thanksgiving traditions and the wonderful feeling of being able to share and give thanks, I’ve learned that making new memories is just as rewarding. Now that I’m older and my family has morphed into something different, I feel able to explore new traditions.
This Christmas I spent a week with my best friend and her baby. If you are going to COS, I highly recommend spending time with friends separate from family. Not only did we have a great time exploring San Diego’s fabulous food and beaches, but we had time together. Time to talk about life, love, and how different I am now. I couldn’t have asked for a better readjustment coach. My friend was mindful of my readjustment issues and hardly ever complained and even joked about first world problems. She let me zone out and be my Ghanaian self. And last night on Christmas, when lights when out for two hours, I got to share with her exactly how I lived for two years. Readjustment is hard, but having someone who is very supportive makes it much easier. Embrace the change, don’t dwell on the difference. And for God sakes, let us enjoy the beloved silence we have come to covet.
In the future I want to spend my holidays this way again. I want to enjoy the company of my friends and make new traditions. I love telling my stories of holidays in Ghana. “Well, the first year at Thanksgiving we killed our own turkey. And Christmas my second year was spent hiking through the bush to pay respects to the ancestors at an ancient hole in the ground.” The holidays don’t have to be normal and traditional, it’s an opportunity to do something you never thought about doing with people you want to spend time with. Although quite a few people agree, so it might get expensive. Christmas in February?
Peace Corps taught me that you don’t need an excuse to go out and have a grand adventure. Just go do it.