Monday, December 27, 2010

Christmas Highlights

This was my first Christmas in Laos! Last year my friend Jenny came to visit and we spent Christmas day on the beach in Thailand. The unusual setting made it easier to not feel so homesick. Many people had warned me that Christmas in Laos is really hard... being away from family and traditional celebrations back in the US and snow, etc. And yes, I definitely missed my family, but I honestly had a wonderful Christmas! Truly, it isn't about me anyway. But it really is what you make it. Here are the highlights:
  • Receiving an early Christmas gift in November- my parent's visit (and some lovely gifts from them- including a Lao nativity set and new curtains for our house)!
  • Decorating our house with Lao friends while enjoying Christmas tunes right after eating a Thanksgiving meal together... hanging the stockings on a towel rack on our window, and putting lights on our two foot tree!
  • A Christmas sleepover with some girlfriends and ELF.
  • A party for our students and staff at Candlelight where the Angel Gabriel forgot his lines when telling Mary the biggest news ever and just kept "flapping" his wings until it got awkward :/
  • A party for our neighbors who were thrilled to eat pizza and play UNO and "pin the star on the tree" (take-off on pin the tail on the donkey...) and watch part of The Nativity movie.
  • Competing for the most facebook responses to a question (mine was asking for Christmas music recommendations) and I won by a landslide! :)
  • Watching my little Lao sister participate in the children's program at the local fellowship... I got tears in my eyes when she volunteered to go up front in front of TONS of people to read the Christmas story from the Word- SO proud of her.
  • The contest at the fellowship during the children's program to see who was the fattest- adults were running up to the stage to try to win. Talk about cultural differences.
  • A nativity drama where early teen actor Joseph did not want to touch young actress Mary and kept his arm a perfect 2 inches behind her the entire time- even when walking.
  • Riding an hour + on my motorbike to visit my friend's Hmong village for Hmong New Year! Her family dressed me up in traditional Hmong clothing, and I got to participate in an ancient courting ritual where guys and girls line up and talk while they "throw the ball" back and forth. (NSAC sponsors gal the left wearing the hat to study at Candlelight.)
  • Having my little teammates over to my house to decorate sugar cookies. The icing was definitely pink rather than red.
  • Making my first ever Shepherd's Pie for Christmas Eve. This is a family tradition, and it felt so much more like Christmas with it! Yum.
  • Talking to close friends and family in America on Skype on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day... and hearing my nephew Sam's new growl talk as he said, "TIA SISI" in a low rumble.
  • Chai tea sold at JOMA.
  • Escorting a recently widowed Lao woman who has adopted me as her daughter to the Christmas Eve service decked out with decorations and lights and worshipping with the choirs.
  • Celebrating my roomie's engagement on Christmas Eve!! I don't have to keep it a secret any more- PHEW. Her fiance and I had been e-mailing back and forth about plans- and he brought me some soup mixes as a thank you- ha, ha. Congrats Jeff & Heather!
  • Shopping for food for Christmas Day at three different mini-marts with foreign imports plus one Lao market on the motorbike... breaking the bank to buy bacon and sausages and other goodies. I stuffed everything in my backpack.
  • Christmas Breakfast with sweet friends- PTL for Seriously, not sure how people cooked with just cookbooks back in the day.
  • Gift exchange at our house.
  • No water at our house and a clogged toilet on Christmas Day when about twenty people came over Christmas evening . . . bad timing, but lots of laughs.
  • Eating the healthiest Christmas dinner in history- veggies and Ranch and salads... everyone brought something to contribute and everyone must have been so tired of sweets!
  • Christmas socks, antlers, and pins (ahem, I think there were more than TEN on Kenton).
  • Playing CatchPhrase and a new game called Signs- hilarious.
  • BEST OF ALL: the truly undeserved gift of EMMANUEL.


David and Kristi said...

@Loved reading your Christmas highlights. Sounds like a ton of fun with some great cultural surprises...although one of my favorite highlights was the no water and clogged toilet on Christmas Day. :) Sending you a big hug and lots of love. Late Merry Christmas and Happy New Year (can't wait to hear how the new year is celebrated in Laos!).

Maren said...

I love it! Thanks for writing this... made me happy to hear your Christmas was fabulous!