( I wrote this back in December..)
I wasn’t sure what to expect for Christmas this year. I’m back living with my host family and we have been talking for weeks about having a Christmas party at our house. A lot has changed-location, food, drink, games, gifts, people- since the first time we talked about it. It was drawing nearer and I was getting a little anxious about it.
I should have known better, to have faith that things would work out.
I woke up Christmas morning and my Aunt came by, she asked, what other things we needed for the party. I was really worried, because multiple people had asked if we were going to liang kao (make dinner). In all the plans we made we just talked about making a bunch of different snacks and getting cake. My Aunt said that we would have plenty to eat and not to worry about it (turns out she was right and all the children went home with leftovers).
After talking with my Aunt. I enjoyed some facetiming with my family in the states. My little sister is always awesome about facetiming me in for some part of the Christmas Eve celebration. This year I got to sing some carols. My Uncle came over to pick me up to run some errands, but I invited him to say hello to my family first. He ended up sitting with me for a while, listening to the carols, asking questions about Christmas and saying hello to my family.
After that, we were off. I spent most of the day running errands with my uncle to get ready for the party. We needed tables and chairs, lights and sound equipment. We needed to buy and prepare food. Decorate the house. Wrap presents and get ready for the children to come.
Later in the evening, the children showed up. First my cousin Gam. She was excited because on Christmas Eve she put her sock outside on the tree for Santa to come and when she woke up it was full of surprises…toothpaste and a toothbrush with a little note that told her not to forget to brush her teeth…and then a small bag of laundry detergent with a note reminding her to wash her smelly socks. She loved this and was so excited to share what Santa brought her!
We played some balloon games and musical chairs. Each of them decorated a nose to play Pin-the-nose-on-the-reindeer. They each guessed how many pieces of candy were in the snowman jar. And then Santa showed up. (My host dad, wearing a Santa suit) The children sang Jingle Bells to welcome him to the party. Santa came and handed out Reindeer lollipops to each of the children.
After that, we did a gift swap. Here, everyone writes their name and puts it in a hat. We started with the oldest person (my Aunt) and she picked a name. My name. So she got my present, from there I picked another name and that’s the present I got, so on and so forth until all the names are picked and presents distributed. Get this, none of them ripped into the presents to see what was inside! They waited until they got home!
It started to get late so we needed to get the children home. We all piled into my Uncles truck to bring the children home starting with the child that lives the furthest away. Santa came along for the ride too. We sang Jingle bells the whole trip. The best part about it was that at the beginning–for the first 15 minutes of the trip, the children only knew “Jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle all the way……….hey!” and by about a half hour into the trip, they knew the words that came in between”oh what fun it is to ride in a one horse open sleigh”
When they would get tired of singing, they would take a short break and then I would hear 1..2…3 Jingle bells Jingle bells…and they started again, singing their hearts out, for the whole community to hear!