Christmas has come and gone, and just like Thanksgiving, it was very different than how I typically celebrate back home. For starters, I went to church (but that has started to be less of a shock, even to me - it's just kind of what you do.) Last Christmas Eve I was working the opening shift at Outback and rushing home on icy streets to make sure I got home in time to eat the delicious Christmas dinner my dad had prepared. This year, Christmas Eve was a night filled with song and dance at the Congregational Church. I can't remember what I ate, probably chicken and taro. I wore my green pulatasi to be festive and showed up at 8 as I had been told. Everyone was in white pulatasi's. Of course, fa'asamoa, the show didn't actually start till 8:30 or so. I was slated to perform a solo of Silent Night so the first half hour I was freaking out. And then, it was my turn. I got up, sang, wished the congregation a "manuia le kerisimasi", and that was it, it was over before I knew what had happened! The rest of the night was spent watching the show, which included song, dance, and reenactments of Jesus' birth. It was actually really good; these kids are hams!
I returned home and watched Grey's Anatomy while sipping hot chocolate; I made the great (and awful) discovery that the Peace Corps office in Salelologa has a huge movie collection in addition to it's wealth of books. So Grey's Anatomy, the complete second season, is now in my borrowed possession. I figured Christmas Eve I would treat myself to a taste of home. While I still love the show, it definitely loses it's thrill the third time you watch a season. So this might be the end of Grey's for a while. It's kind of an end of an era you could say!
Christmas day. I woke around 7am - no alarm needed, the fale komite next door my neighbors across the street seemed to be having a competition for who has the loudest sound system. The komite was preparing to display their fine mats, the intricately woven palm mates that women work on a little bit every day. The neighbors were preparing their Christmas BBQ. At the end of the year the mats are displayed for the village to see in the Fale Komite and then are paraded around throughout town. As it so happened we had the biggest rain storm of the season on Christmas day just as the women were taking their mats out. It didn't stop them; the whole komite paraded through the downpour singing and dancing in the streets. I lamely watched from my window like the rest of the village.
Although the mats were eventful, Christmas here can be described in two words: BBQ and volleyball. So like I said, I woke up at 7am. By 7:30am I was munching on BBQ lamb and chicken - a true breakfast of champions. I tried to help my neighbors out but they had things pretty under control, so by 8:30 I was napping. I woke up at 11 to get ready for Christmas BINGO. Ate another plate of BBQ and went to BINGO with Mina and the rest of the women. When I returned, I was feeling very homesick and just wanted to sleep. I forced myself out of the house though and found the volleyball tournament. Volleyball is not my favorite sport so I opted to watch. It didn't last long as I was immediately drawn into a game. From there it was all fun and games, I must have played and hung out for 4 hours with the volleyball crew. These people take volleyball very seriously, or at least more serious than everything else here, which doesn't mean it's too serious. But they are some good players! I didn't have any balls spiked at my head and was able to return the balls hit to me so I didn't make a total fool of myself and yes, I did have fun. If there are some pick up games today I will definitely try to get in on some!
I rounded off Christmas with one final plate of BBQ and then retired to my room to watch some more Grey's and get to bed early. It wasn't the typical Christmas, but it was something to remember. I never thought I would say it, but I find myself missing snow. It does not feel like Christmas has come and gone and it is hard to believe that my birthday is almost here. I have nothing planned for the big 2-5 because we have huge plans for New Years and I just didn't want to organize one more event for the day before our big trip to Faleolupo. It's going to be weird celebrating my birthday without Jacob. To be honest I have never even referred to it as "my" birthday because it has always been "our" birthday. It still is, just without my other half. Jacob, you better celebrate doubly for the both of us since I will only be there in spirit! Happy birthday dude!