January 2, 2015
2014 Holidays in Paraguay
After a lot of deliberation, we decided to take our mid-sized fake Christmas tree down to The Bridge and let it stand in the front window. It was fun to decorate it and explain our tradition to folks coming in, and that way the lights weren't making our house even hotter. Every evening, a young couple brought their baby girl by to stand outside and watch the twinkly lights. We invited them in but they said she was in that grumpy part of day and the lights were the only thing that seemed to calm her down. Glad we could help.
We decorated a small white one we found at a little tienda on the corner for our house, leaving out the lights altogether. I figured that if it's sparkly white, who'd see the lights anyway, right?
We had a beautiful rainstorm the week of Christmas, bringing temperatures down into the tolerable range in the evenings. When Christmas Eve rolled around, we went to the home of one of my English students, Jake. His parents are sweet folks who live a little bit out of town, in what Jake calls the jungle. I guess it technically is, but after hanging in the Amazon, I don't use that word lightly. ;)
Jake's sister was visiting from Buenos Aires, Argentina, which brought our total to 8 people all around the midnight table under a huge mango tree, with plates full of grilled chicken and beef with brick-oven-baked cornbread and bowls of fresh fruit salad. Camille contributed a pan of peach cobbler just like Mother used to make. I think it was a hit because the man of the house asked for the recipe four or five times before the night was up.
At midnight, fireworks went off all around and Jake lit a few Roman candles. We all sat around chatting in the cool breezes for a bit longer before heading home to wait on Santa Claus. And then we four Hagermans got up the next morning to celebrate Christmas Day, knowing that we were some of the only people in the city awake. A little after lunchtime we heard the stirrings of our neighbors and a few cars were seen on the streets, but mostly, Paraguayans spend the 25th sleeping off the celebrations of the night before.
For New Years, our nearby fellow missionary friends, along with our friend Walter. We had the meal a little earlier this time--around 9 PM--then waited for the rain to slack off enough to go to the river. It seems everyone for miles and miles around was there, waiting for the fireworks that were sure to happen at midnight. As it turned out, the rain put a damper on the festivities, and the only fireworks were those that people had brought themselves or restaurants nearby did. We made our way out of there pretty quickly because small children pointing Roman candles and bottle rockets into the crowds just didn't sit very well with us, and the littlest ones didn't care for how loud the explosions were. I heard, "Are you sure they won't reach us?" more than once, and I couldn't in good conscience say that I was. Sitting inside their car, however, we had a lovely view of the ones that made it high enough in the sky to show their colors.
The next morning, I awoke to the smell of something quite heavenly. Our friend (a mom extraordinaire) was baking doughnuts. You are aware that we don't have doughnuts here, right? I have handled giving up Wal-Mart much better than giving up Krispy Kreme these last years, so to say that I was excited wouldn't do justice to how I felt when I smelled what was coming out of the oven. What a way to start the New Year, right?
Hope you all had a great season of sharing and celebrating, too!