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Friday, December 18, 2009

A week 'til Christmas . . .

And the stockings are hung with care, though we don't have a chimney.  The cookies are being consumed as fast as they can be produced; the Christmas music, from baroque to Bing, carries through the house.  Most of the day our extended "family" of friends/students hangs out here.  Some have been with me at the hospital daily, and with the ward quieting down a bit (we actually have a few EMPTY BEDS instead of overflow on the floor!) I have enjoyed doing actual teaching rounds.  In fact, I'm hoping the alliance between them builds for their future in Bundibugyo:  we have a pre-doctor, a pre-nurse, and a pre-clinical officer, two of the three were school-mates at CSB, and it is a privilege to be living here on the cusp of transformation as these kids get the education and vision to serve.  The rest have done some projects around the house, including a tree-seedling-bed for Julia's tree project (she has visions of Wangari Maathai).  By 1 we are all back together for lunch, catered all week by my neighbor in the effort to keep a dozen teenagers fed.  We eat together and talk.  A couple of videos (their choice, State of Play, my choice, A Christmas Carol) in the afternoons, and a few soccer games, lots of card-playing, book-reading.  I can sense that the separation created by sending our two oldest to an American boarding school is not fully bridged in their return, that there is a new caution on their friends' part here, and a new reluctance in my boys' hearts who have tasted a different sort of camaraderie now, part of the cost of being of many worlds.  By late afternoon the students all drift out to their homes or other places, and we get a daily handful of other visitors, or occasionally go out for a visit ourselves.  But the evenings and nights have been quiet, family-only (mostly) times.  This is unusual in our house, and we purposely set boundaries with the bittersweet realization that this is our last Christmas before Luke goes to college, perhaps our last Christmas as as we know it in this house where we've had so many . . . so at our kids' request we've had sumptuous family feasts on our Christmas-holly plates, good conversation, candlelight.  And tonight will be the 6th and final episode of Lord of the Rings, watching the extended version a disc at a time.  Like Mary, I'm treasuring all these things in my heart, grateful for these days, knowing I can't hold on to them forever.

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