This year, our Christmas morning involved Skype. We set up a chair in the living room for my sister Hannah to "sit" on, and then we crowded around and chatted with her while she opened her presents - a new raincoat for the rainy season and the first season of Glee - from a house in Rwanda where she celebrated the day with other fellows in her program.
We had a bit of trouble connecting in the beginning, and the time difference meant that we were only able to chat for a bit. She wasn't able to see us open all of our gifts from her. There were tears (from me, when I opened her card, and from Mom, later at dinner). I'm so incredibly happy that she's living her dream, but I miss her. Christmas morning wasn't the same without her. And I know this may not be the last one like it. She's a girl who hopes to spend her life where the need is the greatest. And, though I cry when she's not there, I accept that it's generally not with me.
The up side (apart from her happiness) is that we get to experience little bits and pieces of the life she's living. On Christmas Day, we enjoyed some delicious Rwandan coffee, and we each got a beautiful necklace made out of rolled paper by Rwandan women. Hannah has met them, and I believe, watched them work. The necklaces are beautiful, a gorgeous array of bright colors - each one a little different from the others.
Since the chances of Navah and I each wanting to wear our necklaces on the same day were slim, I hijacked hers to put on display. The shadowbox frame had been hanging on the frame wall without anything in it. Shameful, I know. But I had planned something for it that didn't end up working out and didn't want to leave a gaping hole, so it remained empty. As soon as I saw the necklace, I knew it would be perfect. Because of the thickness of the beads, I didn't even have to use any adhesive - they stay in place sandwiched between the back of the frame and the glass. Against the black background, the colors pop beautifully.
And I absconded (with my mom's blessing) with the card Hannah sent - the one that had me crying after "Dear Fam," - to place in the frame above the necklace. It's difficult to tell from the picture, but the image of the woman is actually made from banana leaves. The artistry is truly lovely.
Making updates to the frame wall may seem a little silly since I'll be leaving in less than two weeks, but I'm hoping to do a similar frame wall in the new place, so it's not that silly.
And it made me happy to put up some things that remind me of Hannah and keep her close to me even when she's far away.