A peaceful Christmas Eve, just the family, my favourite champagne, beautiful music, a few traditional dishes (although no ham, didn’t find any in Brazzaville), delicious dessert (well, it tasted a little burnt as I forgot it on the stove for a while…), a few presents, basically just enjoying being together. So grateful for my family and for the fact that we have this time together.
Our celebration was preceded by a huge wardrobe and cupboard clear-out, lots of things given away, to our maid, to the guards, to the cleaner, the caretakers, things they were able to share with their families or pass on to others who need them even more.
And at the same time helping us prepare for the next move, most likely taking place in the summer. Since our daughter and I now live in Finland during term time (since this autumn), and come to Congo only during holidays, I decided it’s best I already start doing what I can in preparation for the upcoming move because it won’t be easy to get ourselves organised this time around.
But sometimes it’s hard knowing what to give away as I don’t want to offend anyone. Some things I’d rather just put straight into the bin, but knowing that it may be valued by another person, I’ve come into the habit of putting pretty much everything I’m getting rid of into boxes and then saying we don’t need these things anymore, please can you take care of them – that way there’s no need for anyone to feel awkward and I don’t have to make ill-informed decisions about what may or may not be useful for another person.
And the truth is that 99.9% of the things get a second life here. So many people have no jobs, so the person who does work supports not only their immediate family but large extended families, several generations, day in and day out. For food, for rent, school supplies, hospital bills, medications… everything. Yes, a salary can sustain many people in this kind of society, but still, one salary can only go so far. So if our excesses can help others make ends meet or provide that little extra to brighten up a difficult situation, I’m only too glad to help.