|Our Christmas wreath at home- made from|
a misprinted book and a scrap of red fabric
Christmas in Tonga is also blissfully lacking in the commercialization that bombards residents in the US and many other countries, and while I would love to see the streets and shops decorated for Christmas, it's also nice to have less commercial pressure. Instead in Tonga, as one would expect, we have feasts. This year we'll miss the three-day Catholic feast we're invited to because we'll be visiting family and friends in the US for the first time in over two years, but we did get to celebrate a Christmas opening of the new Fua'amotu church with friends yesterday.
The Wesleyan church at Fua'amotu is especially important because the current king's late father, Tupou IV, considered it his church, and regularly visited it with Queen Mata'aho while he was the reigning monarch. In addition, the town of Fua'amotu is the property and residence of Prince Tungi, a title that was held by the same monarch during his life, and is now held by the current king's nephew.
|Everything was set out at Sina's - |
this was only one table of many
By the time everything got sorted out, the proper church opening ceremony was already half-over, and after having been to our share of ceremonies, we elected to stay and help Sina and her sister and various relatives prepare for the feast.
|Everyone had been preparing and dishing up food long before we arrived|
|The kids played checkers with rocks on an old board|
|We listened to Justin Beiber, that song that repeats "like a G-6," and |
other pop tunes on an ipod speaker set while we prepared
|Prince Tungi in light green, surrounded by dancing women|
|A lot of people came back from overseas for this church opening, many of them with matching outfits|
After almost three hours, the gifts and dances were still coming steadily, and as we had friends to see off to the airport and practices for a performance I'm in this week, we made our apologies to Sina, who looked as if she'd rather be sitting under a fan herself, and caught a ride with her brother back to the house to pick up our bikes. Despite the heat, we'd had a great time, and were glad to have been a part of it.
We elected to bike back rather than tossing our bikes in the back of a truck, because, aside being desperate for the feel of wind on our faces, we remembered the last time we'd biked back from Fua'amotu being a pleasant, easy ride of less than an hour. This time, after more than an hour of biking into a strong headwind, the hot air giving barely any relief to the heat that had refused to subside even at 4pm, we thoroughly regretted the decision. We arrived back at home, and each of us took ten minutes of standing under a cold shower to cool down again, holding glasses of ice water to our faces, and saying our dizzy and out-of-breath goodbyes to our friend John, who was leaving for the States that afternoon.
Occasionally, the song "I'm dreaming of a white Christmas" comes on the radio among the repetitions of the re-mixed favourite "Mary's boy child." In this heat, we stick our heads in the freezer and dream.