Christmas stories

Simple Stories

Christmas in ZambiaEildon's Christmas in Zambia

Sometimes it’s the simplest things that make you take stock and reappraise your priorities. Some year ago when in Zambia I spent time in a poor community on the outskirts of Lusaka. Even though it was the summer, I took time to ask people about how they celebrated Christmas.

‘We go to church’ they said.

‘Good’ I thought that’s a nice start.

‘Anything else ?’ I added.

There was a pause and then, ‘We give the children a biscuit’

That was it. Just God Simply Christmas. No trees . No Santa. No tinsel but joy and celebration none the less. How much we have to learn from our brothers and sisters.

Christmas in Nepal
Ros's Christmas in Nepal

There are no shops in the Annapurna Range, Nepal.

Whilst heading out in a pair of (pink) Reebok trainers, hired jacket and sleeping bag stuffed into my rucksack, I thought nothing of climbing steep mountains, crossing scarily fragile rope and wooden bridges across vertiginous ravines and hoping the map wasn't upside down as the compass didn't seem to work. When you're 23 you reckon it's all part of the adventure.

But it was Christmas and I longed for the magic of home, dressing the tree with family around the table and Santa filling my footwear with freebies. Just for a moment, that is.

Because the rest of the time I was holding on to a bit of rock, huffing and puffing up or down a mountain or trying to teach my itinerant group of companions Adeste Fideles.

Two Aussies, a Frenchman and two stray Englishmen tagging onto our wee group made for interesting conversations around a fire at night.

Teaching ancient hymns to the New World folks was fun and they belted them out with gusto.

On the 24th December I strayed from our path for a bit and that's where I met him; an old man (previously a Ghurka), selling tiny bars of Cadbury's chocolate and little metal badges he had made. I bought a badge, and bars of heaven for everyone; I thought all of my Christmases had come at once.

We sang, we trekked and we looked at the stars. They somehow seemed different, one in particular. I'll never forget it.


  • 56 years ago