December 25, 2011
It Rains on the Just and the Unjust
You know it's really hot here now. We're in summer when North America is in winter, so Christmas looks more like 4th of July--swimming in the creek, eating watermelon, and grilling out. This past week, the thermometer climbed just shy of 130 degrees for a couple of days, before the bottom fell out on Christmas Eve and we had a massive storm.
We like to see rain in the summer, because it comes in from the south and brings with it cool air. We immediately dropped into the 60's, with high winds, thunder, and blowing rain. BEAUTIFUL! What turned out to be awfully weird for the Paraguayans felt more like what we expect at Christmas-time. In fact, South Carolina is in a warm snap right now, and when we talked to folks back home, they were at the same outside temperature as we were.
This is all well and good, but remember what the traditions are here. There isn't any emphasis put on Christmas morning, since the day children receive gifts comes in a couple of weeks, on Day of the Kings (referring to the Wise Men who brought gifts to Baby Jesus). Instead, the celebrations take place on Christmas Eve, with a living nativity scene in every neighborhood chapel, and grilling out with family and friends. Then at midnight, tons of fireworks go off and everyone walks around greeting and congratulating the neighbors.
Last night, the misty rain continued to fall when it was time to begin the celebration here at Hogar Ganar. It came out looking like snow in the pictures. The children who live here dressed up and acted out the Nativity Story, complete with little Sammy in the manger, and then sang a few carols in Spanish and Guarani. We had to move indoors before the meal, since the rain had soaked everyone and was starting to come down harder. I ended up cutting out a bit before everyone else because broken bones and metal hardware don't mix well with cold and rain. At midnight, though, we all went out in front of the house to watch the fireworks, which continued all night.
I think that when Caroline woke up at 6 AM, we were the ONLY people in Paraguay awake. It was such a huge contrast to the loud "bombs" we heard all night, that it reminded me of the eye of the storm when Hurricane Hugo passed through Macedonia. The cooler weather remained, though, and we tried to frown along with the Paraguayans who said, "We've never had weather so cold for Christmas," even though inside we were grinning from ear to ear and thanking God for one more blessing this year.