Wednesday, December 23, 2015

It's already Christmas? Yikes!

          Is Christmas really upon us? How is it possible that six months have whizzed by this fast? It seems as if it was just yesterday that Hadley and Eli were welcoming Ciara and I to Kenya with our first Nairobi errand running-camp supply gathering-vehicle repairing-trip. With half of my time gone by here in the Mara, it’s a struggle to wrap my head around this untimely reality whilst trying to convince myself I’m not in some kind of time warp. The omnipresent rain here in Talek these past few months has somewhat drained me of the over-festive and jolly spirit that is normally just oozing out of me throughout the holiday months. That said, life in camp has kept those spirits alive. 
          I’ve always placed a high priority on spending oodles of quality time with my family and friends, particularly during the holidays. In the absence of my loved ones back home, my Fisi (Swahili for hyena) Camp family is a more than welcomed substitute. The radio that we always have playing in the kitchen to deter the verminous vervet monkeys and boisterous baboons has blessed my ears with classic holiday tunes (with a bit more static) that I’m all too familiar with, but with Kenyan twists that have inspired my post this month. These covers of Christmas carols have made me ponder the meaning of Christmas and family, and not just to myself, but the guys in camp as well – how do they celebrate the holiday and what can I learn from them and their customs and traditions in comparison to what I’m used to back in Michigan?
          Joseph Kamaamia, a man who has become more than a great friend to me, but a fatherly figure that I look up to and admire for his positivity, work ethic, and sound moral compass, recently let me badger him with questions. Below, intertwined between some of my favorite photos I’ve taken throughout the first half of my year as a Research Assistant, you’ll find a sampling of quotes from Joseph. Through his unsolicited wisdom, generosity, and truly contagious optimism, Joseph has helped me feel at home while away from home during this Christmas season. May these photos and words from Joseph brighten your holidays and give you a glimpse into the Christmas thoughts of a genuinely wonderful man.
“To have my kids happy is to have me happy. I am a proud Dad.”
“My most memorable Christmas is the first visit I had with my Grandmom. I was 16. What made it special was that I had many friends of the same age who don’t get those chances, to see their family far away or at all, and so I was lucky. I knew I was lucky. I had never been to her home and it is a Christmas I will never forget. It was magic.”
 “I celebrate Christmas first because I am a Christian and also this is the day of Jesus Christ - a day to share together, to be together, to be one.”
 “As a child, I always wanted a new outfit – dreams of shiny new shoes, new trousers, a new shirt. To look nice, especially on Christmas, is important to me. Now, the most I wish for is the best for my kids. I wish for them to share and to be happy with what we have and for each other. Family is what matters most and Christmas is a time for family.”
“Now I am older and Christmas has changed a lot to me. When I was young it seemed cheap. I am happier now these days, now I know Christmas is for the kids, for my kids. Now it is about the connections and the community, to be moving and eating all day on Christmas with others around you. To be invited and welcomed by neighbors and sharing in food and smiles is the day of Christmas.”
“My best part of Christmas day is listening to my kids. Listening to them go on and on when I come home. What did I bring them? What can I tell them? What are they thinking? Luckily I have very honest kids.”

Happy Holidays from all of us Fisi Campers in Kenya! Wishing you safety and happiness as the New Year approaches. 

[ All Photos Property of Jared P. Grimmer ]

No comments:

Michigan State University | College of Natural Science