25 December 2009
This is John Hugh Gahan III, Azerbaijan Peace Corps volunteer, 2008-2010, wishing people of all faiths a Happy Christmas. And what exactly does Christmas mean for all of us out here in this little country sandwiched between Russia and Iran like the bacon in your club sandwich (except there’s no bacon here. crap.)?
Well, I can say we still take on that same holiday spirit we had before leaving our home countries. This kind of thing sticks with you, and we, of course, are also here to support and remind each other that Christmas is here and we’d better get in the mood. Ain’t nothing wrong with that. I mean, heck, if we so chose to, I can honestly say that my rayon mate Charlie and I could’ve passed December 25th like any other day and not given it a second though. Thankfully, that’s not what we’re doing.
Out here in this little country, folks are meeting at different places to celebrate together. Like last year, Charlie and I will be in Şəki with several other volunteers, and it’s gonna be a rompin’ good time. Şəki has a nice hotel with some good eatin’ we’ll hopefully enjoy, and I also anticipate some Secret Santa action. Whoever receives the salted peanuts, hazelnuts, and two Carlsberg brewskies from me is gonna be lucky, let me tell you.
Yep, it outta be fun, no matter where we are. Signing up for this commitment assumes you’re willing to spend times like this away from home, and that’s no problem. To be honest, it has its good side, for me at least, in that I get to reflect on such occasions and appreciate them more. Kinna cheesy, huh? Even so, it’s very true.
And let’s not forget the meaning of Christmas, laid out plain and clear to Charlie Brown by Linus after the third or fourth spontaneous dance party, which spans borders and cultures worldwide, from Catholics in Chile, to Pentecostals in Oklahoma, to Orthodox Christians in Russia, and Anglicans in Singapore, that gives light to everyone despite seemingly overwhelming darkness. You can be anywhere, and nothing can overcome the great gift that we remember on this lovely day.
So Merry Christmas everybody. Enjoy it without reservation.