Apart from the temperature then:
Well there's the tree Sunday the 16th had us scouring the compound for a suitable branch to paint gold and silver and make glittery, a bit different from a green fir tree but perhaps more suitable here and certainly easier to find apart from the plastic ones for sale by the hawkers outside the supermarket with lights already attached. It looks good once we've decorated and there are no needles to clear up.Then the films we watched two different Nativities the first with the staff and the second with patients and their relatives not snuggled up in the warm by the fire but projected onto the perimeter wall, sitting on wooden benches under the stars.
Christmas eve shopping almost felt similar to England in that it was so busy. It too was outside, the market having doubled in size as it spread up the surrounding roads. Women sat behind piles of locally grown vegetables on mats on the floor, frozen chickens (from Brazil) were defrosting in the sun , live ones were squawking and amongst all this motorbikes were weaving in and out threatening to knock us over. We enjoyed the buzz of anticipation as we bought our vegetables for the next day.
What about the food.... well on the 25th we did manage a traditional Christmas safari dinner with a slight twist of a watermelon nativity it would still have been excellent in England However the nibbles after the Christmas presentation earlier in the week were prawn crackers, chunks of roasted beef and a type of donut.
Donuts were also on offer along with sweet and strong tea during a pause in the Christmas eve service and we had a gift of sweets prawn crackers and biscuits from one of the midwives. One or 2 mince pies were also eaten thanks to supplies from England and our retired guard who came to greet us loved the Christmas cake eating two slices and taking a third home for his wife
I wonder what time your Christmas eve service started ours was at 6pm and got going about 2 hours later lasting till 7 am! We only managed until 11pm as we were on call the next day but did enjoy the Bible quiz even if Mark, representing the hospital got his question wrong.
Christmas day was spent part at home but also we managed a Caesarean and a chest drain amongst other patients needing our attention. It did stay quiet for our Christmas meal though and it was not all work, we enjoyed handing out gifts to the patients: sweets, balloons, more biscuits, oranges, knitted hats and booties, balls, crayons and outfits for the little babies and no Father Christmas in sight .
Our Boxing day walk was where we really knew we were in Chad we decided to go and book our New Year camel ride but we were in for a surprise. We arrived at the golf course, which is where the camel rides take place don't worry about the greens, there are only browns and were asked if we had come to see the Hippos. Half and hour later we were watching a group of 15 hippos in the water just down from N'djamena's main bridge one chomping the greenery making a terrible noise.
So that was our Christmas was it really so different what made it good was sharing with others and having fun celebrating the wonderful news that Christmas is and that doesn't need any special food or place or weather does it?