Merry Christmas!

Xander’s travel box

Warm, summer breezes and not a decoration in site. It doesn’t feel like Christmas here in Kenya. Not at all, except for the Christmas music I have playing and the small wrapped gifts I have sitting on my table. This is my second Christmas in Kenya, and although we are not partaking in hairy goat meat this year, we are cooking hearty food. We had planned to go on a hike outside the city, but with clouds hanging in the air, we decided to stay home, watch movies, play games, and relax. I’m pretty excited about the decision, as we’ve been running around so much lately that I think this is my first full day I will be spending at home (with the exception of a trip to the grocery story in a little bit). 

It also happens to be my nephew’s first Christmas and I’m missing out. And all of my family is getting together which hasn’t happened in years. Truly missing out on a good Christmas gathering. But I am thankful for the world of Skype. I’m looking forward to saying hi to everyone and seeing my nephew Xander as his usual happy and babbling self.

I didn’t buy many Christmas gifts this year (actually if truth be told, I just ran short on time before I left the States and didn’t get around to gifts for many). But I don’t feel too bad about it, because I did finish up the most important gift of all. I spent plenty of time mulling over exactly what I would do for Xander’s first Christmas. Thanks to fellow travel blogger Sherri and her post on gifting travel to her nieces, I fell in love with the idea. I wanted to find something that I could gift to my nephew that would not only be meaningful, but something he might not get from anyone else. My sister has always been a good gift giver. From her I learned a few gift giving tactics, like remembering something that someone mentioned six months ago or buying a gift for someone that they might not buy for themselves. And while I can’t exactly applies these ideas to a gift for my nephew, I know that I can give him a unique travel experience. My grandmother took me on trips when I was younger to New Orleans and New York, and I still have distinct and fond memories from those trips. I made a little box for my nephew titled “Adventures of Alexander & Auntie La” and wrote him a letter explaining his gift. Instead of Christmas and birthday gifts every year, I’ve decided to take him on a trip anywhere he chooses in the world when he turns 16. It will encourage him to learn about new places and cultures and will give him the chance to go anywhere of his choosing. And even if I have a long wait until then, I can’t wait until he gets a little older and can travel with me!

Here is the letter I wrote him:

Dear Xander,

Ho ho ho!

Merry Christmas to my little bug. You might be wondering why Auntie La is giving you a box for Christmas. It’s not a toy that you can put in your mouth or bang loudly on the floor.

I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that you and I are going to have a special relationship. After all, I got to watch (in shock and horror but in the end amazement) your entrance into this world which is something few can claim. And I spent the first eight months of your life encouraging you in all the fun and slightly naughty activities- like riding on your dog Beckett like a horse. So it’s only fitting that your gift from Auntie La should be slightly ‘out there’ but also one of those gifts that makes you want to pee-your-pants because you’re so excited. Actually, that’s a reality at this stage of your life but that’s besides the point. Anyhow, I feel like I can give you something that no one else will (I mean technically someone else could give it to you but it wouldn’t involve me which means that it wouldn’t be nearly as exciting). Okay okay so what is it?

I don’t feel like my giving you toys or other gifts every Christmas and birthday is the most valuable thing I could give you. So, my cute little favorite nephew, this is my ongoing gift to you: after you turn 16, I will take you on a trip to anywhere in the world you want to go. That’s right- anywhere. You have a few years to learn about new places, languages, and people… and even change your mind a few times! You can use this box however you wish. You can save all the postcards that I’m going to send you in the future (or postcards from others). You can save cool newspaper articles, magazine clippings, or images of places you long to discover. We can scuba dive in Australia, hike the El Camino in Spain, sleep in a yurt in Mongolia, eat steak in Argentina, mingle with monks in Thailand, get lost in the markets of Marrakech… the possibilities are endless. And hopefully before then we will have some mini-adventures together to explore this beautiful world that we live in and learn new things (but for now you should probably work on the basics… like potty training).

I love you tons and can’t wait for the Adventures of Alexander & Auntie La to begin!!

Love, hugs, and happiness from your one and only,

Auntie La


From Kenya, I wish you a very Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays. I hope you eat and drink well! Any special Christmas gifts you gave or received this year?

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