|Making pumpkin pies|
Christmas is not as big of a deal here as it is many places elsewhere, but it is a time for huge family reunions, good eating, and a summer break off of work. It is quite refreshing not to be bombarded with Christmas advertisements, shopping sales, and the general Christmas mania that takes over many other parts of the world.
But, we did see Christmas mania in the sheer amount of people coming in to Tonga for the holidays. So many families have significant numbers of family members in New Zealand, Australia, the US, or somewhere else in the world, and most people make a huge effort to come back home for Christmas. Flights into Tonga were packed for the last several days, and it felt like Tonga's population doubled and had all decided to be out in the streets on Christmas eve, as everyone rushed around doing last minute grocery shopping.
|Our own Christmas dinner on Christmas eve|
Although we went to the Christmas eve service last year in 'Eua, we stayed home this year because we had just gotten back from New Zealand that very day. Instead, we made ourselves a comically huge Christmas meal: roast duck with red wine and apricot sauce, garlic mashed potatoes, apricot stuffing, red wine cocoa gravy, spinach with onions and blue cheese, a fresh salad, pumpkin pie, and finally a dried fruit and raisin pecan-almond pie with a layer of chocolate in it - a weird and delicious pie of my own creation - gourmet food using a number of special ingredients we'd gotten in recent care packages and in NZ.
We had just gotten back from New Zealand (again) on Christmas eve because Peace Corps decided to fly me there for some tests to check out some ongoing stomach pain and digestive problems I've been having. We were there for three days, and I got every kind of test done, including getting pictures of the inside of my stomach taken! Needless to say, I didn't eat much of our Christmas dinner. It looks like I'll be going back for several more tests in mid-January as well - it's good we liked New Zealand so much!
|Neighbor kids playing in the rain|
|Roast pork, lu, and breadfruit- yum!|
|Soccer stars on the trampoline|
Later that evening, we went with a Peace Corps volunteer friend to some other friends' house and decorated Christmas cookies, watched Elf, and then Harry Potter 5, two good Christmas movies...
Christmas is always hard to be away from family and all the traditions and memories that we all build up each year- and so this year didn't quite feel fully like Christmas. But we certainly had fun with our adopted families here, and with mixing our own Christmas traditions with some new ones from Tonga.