My first Ghanaian Christmas… and a dead goat.

While there was no snow, holly, or Christmas trees, there was still Christmas in the air here in Ghana this year. In mid December, our new Executive Director, Matt Brady, arrived from Minnesota to spend six weeks taking on his new role. While we are hoping to have him full time in Ghana soon, for now he will be working mostly from the states. Matt has been here several times before and has gained quite a bit of knowledge of the local language. On any given day you can find him chatting with the locals in Twi, which Ghanaians totally get a kick out of. While I am still stuck on the basic “How are you?” and “Thank you, please..” I hope to soon be at the same conversational level.

Kathleen, Matthew and I spent Christmas here in the village. Matthew and I put Christmas lights on outside, which was quite the challenge since we had no nails or hammers to hang them. But with push pins and I a lot of dedication, we got it done.

Kathleen was sad that we didn’t have a Christmas tree, so I asked the students in my class to draw some pictures of Christmas trees. Matthew and I hung them on the arch in our living room and then put the presents in corner.

We had all gathered presents for each other, but had a very limited supply of wrapping paper, so we all got creative. I used the wrapping paper tube for one present and a yellow plastic grocery bag for another. I got both Matt and Kathleen alcohol that comes in little plastic bags here.

I also made homemade Christmas cards.

Santa brought me The Help dvd and a great book that I just started reading called Father and Son. I was definitely a happy girl. I got Kathleen and Matt these really great cloth boxes, but they thought they made better hats.


Even Kathleen’s cat, Isabelle, got a gift. I bought her a Corona. I know cats don’t usually drink beer, but Corona’s are very hard to find here, so I hope she enjoys it.

We made a full Christmas meal with turkey, stuffing, garlic mashed potatoes, and coco yam leaves, which taste like a cross between spinach and collard greens.

Matthew later regaled us with his story of spending Christmas Eve with his Ghanaian family (our neighbors that he is staying with) and their adventures in the Volta Region. Apparently it is tradition to kill some sort of animal of Christmas Eve, the animal of choice for our neighbors was a goat. Matthew helped with the whole process and showed me the video he took, which I couldn’t watch much of with all the bleating and blood spurting everywhere. Let’s just say I am glad we ate first, and now my nick name for Matt is “Matt the Goat Killer.” He also showed me how they use almost every part of the goat including the intestines, but only after they hand squeeze out all the goat poop. Yummm. I’d insert a picture of the goat slaughter here, but I’ll save you from the grossness and move on.

After dinner we watched Elf (a cornerstone of any Christmas celebration) and started in on some of the delicious alcohol that we got as Christmas gifts.

All in all, it was a really terrific Christmas, I even got to call my mom, sister and nieces and wish them a Merry Christmas. I felt very blessed!



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  1. Al Collins says:

    Thanks for sharing your journey.

  2. gary says:

    May you have a wonderful New Year and it appears that Christmas was afun time and joyous as well. Best wishes to you in Ghana!


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