Thursday, December 24, 2009

It's 5:08 a.m., Christmas Eve, and I Cannot Sleep

The kids and Jayson built a Lego Santa with two reindeer (Blitzen and Rudolph...of course), a house complete with chimney and sleeping children, and Santa's house (in the background) with Mrs. Claus and elves ready to go in two cars!

Its 5:08 a.m., Christmas Eve, and I cannot sleep. James and Jovie both woke up about two hours ago for a spell and after musical beds, James is now my bed partner. He is dozing peacefully... better him than I. I can handle my tiredness a bit better when the sun rises than he.

James and Jovie (and the other kiddos)...
the reason I'm awake writing the blog at 5:08 a.m.!

Last night we had our Freedom Firm Christmas party. Mala, the Aftercare Director, was reflecting that there were only four other people (besides her family) in the room that were at last year’s party. Everybody else is new. There were 20ish adults and 14 kids. Ten of which were six and under. It was a great celebration of Jesus’ birth. There were charades, yummy food, a dance by the aftercare girls (and Sydney snuck in her own dance after they were done) and presents for all... I got a bit teary looking around the room, seeing a great number of stories, families, and countries that came together, celebrating Christmas.

We Palms had a wing-dinger of a Christmas party on Sunday. Again, I have never been at or thrown a more international party. There were 10 countries represented, 50-60 people. So fun. There were also lots of children. Lots. Lots. Lots of boys. Running. Asking if I had any more weapons... (We do have three Star Wars light sabers in our house that were already in use) Eating. Boys, they can eat. All ages. Sizes. Nationalities. One of the great things that I was reflecting on as I was preparing for the party is that I had no social anxiety about the event. Usually, when I have a mixed group of people over, I fret, sweat, toil about all the possible awkward moments, if I will have made enough food (good food) and if I will have any judgments placed on me in reflection of if the guest had a good time or not. Painful, I know. But here, that was not a part of the preparation. Made the party a lot more freeing. I felt like I was able to receive guests a bit more graciously and I was not as tired afterwards.

Pictures from the Palm Christmas Party

It's 5:27 a.m. now. Yawning. Fingers freezing, nose cold, hood on. It’s Christmas. Yeah. I love Christmas, for all the meaning and traditions involved. This year, we would be in Rockford, IL, for Christmas, with Jayson’s family. The first year that I celebrated Christmas with Jayson’s family I was a bit shocked to discover that on Christmas Eve they have anchovy pizza. (Jayson’s mom’s side is 100% Italian.) But if I reflect on what my dad’s side of the family has, Oyster stew, it’s not much different. Both a bit fishy tasting. I am trying to be positive about the fact that I am about a ka-jillion miles away from our family - I don’t have another choice, about being positive, do I? We are going to seize the moment at use this as a fresh canvas, awaiting the Palm Six to create something all their own.

So, here’s what is on tap for us. Some of this I am planning as I go, so I am interested to see what I write, it will dictate our next 48 hours. Tonight, I think we will make some homemade pasta. We have made linguini many times, when I say many, I mean probably eight times. But it’s more than a few, but not quite many, put the two together and it would be fenny or fanny. Let’s say fanny, it makes me smile. I digress. Let’s make ravioli. With some sort of stuffing in it. My mom sent over some crab meat. Is there crab stuffed ravioli? I will see. We do need some sort of fish on Christmas Eve... I do need to do some baking today. Pies. I have got a couple cans of fillers that friends sent over. So it will be pumpkin, blackberry and then I will make an apple. I would like my cousin Beth to come over with her french silk pie... I doubt that that can be arranged. If it is nice, we will go for a hike of sort. Maybe finish our puzzle tonight after we wrap presents while watching some sort of Christmas movie. I think I will need to go a knockin’ on people doors today to see if I can borrow a Christmas film. Some sort of Christmas craft will happen as well, it wouldn’t be a day at the Palm’s unless there were a craft of sort. Also, I promised Ani that we would do more charades. We would love to have loads of people over, but for the people that are in town, it seems that they do a quiet Christmas. Well, that’s what they told us... hmm, maybe there is a conspiracy. I am going to invite some friends over for pie tomorrow. Surely the Palm Six cannot consume three pies. There is the good possibility that it will be a Merry Little Christmas this year. Little in people, numbers and ages. But if that is what is before us, I will try to take the bull by the horns and celebrate well. Make it magical, for the great celebration that it is, in other ways that I am used to. It’s a good challenge.

Its 5:49, everything is still cold, less yawning, I think I am up for good. Oh hey, our cat came back. The good pirate that he is. He has been gone for two weeks, we thought that our pack of dogs got the best of him. But two nights ago, we heard a very loud meow, opened the door and there he came. Looking like he had been at sea for six months - like the pirate he is. He was dirty, hair gone in a few spots, hungry, man was he snarfing down his food, peg leg, hair standing on end and I think, in cat language, he had a few choice words for us.

Our new house, decorated for Christmas

Ooty and Christmas. I took a picture of the one place in town that has Christmas decorations up. Being it a mostly Hindu country, Christmas is definitely not what it is in the States. People in town are aware of it, and there are some Christmas fruit cakes to be bought, and some random strings of Christmas lights strung around, but that’s about it. Our friends’ houses are decorated and feel Christmas cozy, and that’s great.

Okay, it's 5:59, time to be done. This post was a bit longy, longy - But what else is there do to at the 5ish a.m.’s in the morning, except chat away... Much love to you all and a have a Merry Christmas.

Monday, December 21, 2009

The Kiddos Hebron Christmas Program...Too Cute!

That's James on the far left - yes, in a snowflake outfit. He does a nice little "spirit fingers" bit at the end of his song. Look for Sydney sitting down and waving her arms to the right - and covering her ears when the crowd cheers too loud! "Oops, am I supposed to get off the stage now?" Ani's cowgirl song is next, with her consistently pushing her cowboy hat back into place :)

Friday, December 18, 2009

It Knocks My Socks Off

Ani in the Hebron Christmas program. (A 30 second clip of this coming next week...)

There's Sydney, waving her flags in the Christmas program like a pro.

Ani with her best friends in India, Bethany and Amy

Our little snowflake.

Good evening, it’s a lovely evening here in Ooty, India. Weather update: rain today, but mostly it’s been about 70 degrees and brilliantly sunny. Yippity skippity! Actually, a part of the greatness of Christmas is the coziness inside and the frigid temperatures outside. And the snow of course. But this Christmas, I am guessing that the kids will be in a little lighter wear than the full bundle of a snowsuit. Just a hunch.

So, let’s do a quick recap of the last few weeks. I will try to make the details as spicy as possible. Three weeks ago, Jayson’s folks landed in merry India. We started it off having two Thanksgivings... I love that the first time in my life that I have had two Thanksgivings was in India. Each was a great feast and we were all very thankful. It was also a great way for Jayson’s folks meeting all our friends. After that, we gave his parents one day of rest and then packed up our house and moved the next day. One of our friends and fellow FF staff, Greg, was helping us move and he gave me the biggest compliment...He said it was a very efficient move. Gasp, jaw drop and sheer delight quivered through my body. I am not one for lots of small details and I dislike packing to the core. But a few weeks before we moved, I vowed to anybody listening that I was going to be the model packer. The last few times we moved - from our home on 65th Ave to the house that we rented from our church to India - I was nothing short of ridiculous. And everybody that followed on our heels had to pick up the pieces for me. It’s just too much micro-organizing for this girl and I would rather read a book than pack, let’s be honest. But this itty bitty move, taking our 14 suitcases across town, was a breeze, a cinch, a drop in the bucket compared to the moving I had done the previous year.

Nana and Papa brought the Christmas season with them.

I feel like I could write a whole blog about our move, but I have got to keep on truckin’... With our in-laws mighty help and decorating mad skills, we whipped this house into shape within a matter of days. Christmas decorating and all. We celebrated Christmas with them the weekend before they left and were quite overjoyed at the fact that despite the warm weather and the fact that we live in crazy India... we had a grand time celebrating. We were all so sad to see them leave a week ago, but so, so grateful that they were able to come and visit. I think the best part of them being here for me, was simply to have them around. It is a beautiful feeling to have the presence of others around that know you well and love you so completely...

Our 2009 Christmas tree in the prime of it's Christmas tree life. (Not looking so good by now...)

Let’s talk about this house for a bit. We are ever so grateful for this house. The mere coziness of it knocks my socks off. I didn’t realize how important that was to me until I did not have it. And then now that I do, I feel like I am eating dark chocolate all day... Also, the yard is quite big for India and has some beautiful flowers. The house is set up in a way that allows for big gatherings. The lack of space did not hinder us in the other house, but in this house it’s just a bit more manageable. Room to breathe. The house did come with a few quirks. It is not unusual for there to be caretakers that live on the property with the houses. So right behind us, like right behind us, like I could spit and hit their front door (let me clear that one up right away, I have never spit on their house and never intend to...), there is a family of five that takes care of the property. It was a bit odd at first, but now it’s no biggie. The house also came with three large dogs. I am not a big fan of them and we are trying to find homes for them ASAP. The house also came with a cook. Ridiculous, I know. We are not going to keep him on, but wanted to give his some time to find another job. So, currently he is cooking for us 3-4 nights a week. Sometimes I look at my life, and I can’t really figure out how I got here. And having a cook is one of those many peculiarities that I am facing currently. To not be the boss in my own kitchen has been a bit of an adjustment. We’re working on it. But with all my holiday cooking and baking as of late, I think I am ruffling his feathers a bit much.

Our friends Ryan and Angie on pizza and movie night

FF staff Anne and volunteers Justin and Becs over for dinner.

Next week, I’ll write about celebrating Christmas in India and what that entails - For Indian nationals and for the Palm Six. But for now, I’ve got a 1,000 piece puzzle that I am obsessing about and it’s calling my name...