Going to bed at 12:00 a.m. and waking up to my alarm clock at 2:00 a.m. on Christmas morning was the start of my most unique Christmas thus far. This Christmas is different because I am spending it away from my family as I travel to Nairobi, Kenya, to film and take photos of various people and events.
When I was asked to assist with photos and videos in Kenya by Culturs Global Multicultural Global Magazine, I knew I would be working over Christmas and New Year’s. Emotionally, I assumed it wouldn’t be too hard to spend the holidays away from home because I would simply call some of my friends and family, as well as try to visit my home in North Carolina before I left for Kenya. Unfortunately, I could not make the time to visit home because of other photo obligations, I struggled to make time to call family members and close friends, I had to deal with copious changes to the productions in Kenya, and I had to deal with the logistics and travel stress of going abroad. All of this added stress made me forget the importance of the holidays and it almost led me to neglect those who I am close to.
After spending four straight days getting organized and setting aside some time to make a few calls, I was finally packed and ready to leave for Kenya. As I prepared to leave the lobby of my apartment and board the airport shuttle, I noticed a decorative Christmas tree with presents under it. Before, I would simply ignore it and assume it was just a meaningless decoration. This year, the tree brought back so many memories of the Christmases I once had. When I was younger, I would stay up as late as my parents would allow; I would lie in my bed smiling because of the anticipation of opening the presents under the tree. If I was lucky, I would fall asleep sometime around 3:00 a.m., only to wake up at 6:00 a.m. to open presents. After opening the presents on Christmas morning, my mother would cook a large breakfast and we would sometimes have our neighbors over. After breakfast, my parents and I would always take a short drive to Greenville, North Carolina, to see more of my family. Every Christmas in Greenville was full of good times, laughter and tons of food.
This year, it was such a chore to get out of bed because of the lack of sleep I had. It was odd not having my parents around. So instead of my mother’s large breakfast, I ate some uncooked ramen noodles with a soda. After having such a abnormal start to the day, I tried to make the best of it. I had a great conversation with the shuttle driver who picked me up, and I listened to the “Jackson 5 Christmas Ultimate Christmas Collection” on the way to the airport.
Even though this Christmas is outside the norm, I can still look towards a good experience in Kenya. I don’t think I will ever be able to say it was worth missing Christmas, but I’ll do my best to enjoy it, and bring lots of stories back home.
Collegian photographer Eliott Foust can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.