Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Christmas in Fiji - by Ian

We had Christmas in Fiji this year. It came and it went. Some of our celebrations were different and some were the same as at home. This is an explanation of what we did.

On Christmas Eve, Mom and I went into Savusavu to get money and some other last minute supplies. There were extra buses all week and every bus was standing room only. The town center was more crowded than we have ever seen it. There were people everywhere especially at the ATM. The line was so long! And the post office was a disaster, with lines stretching all the way to the back of the room. The grocery store, called M.H., was so busy that we did not even bother going inside.

The Savusavu Market on Christmas Eve. (That is Dalo (taro root) in bunches in the foreground.)

The main intersection in front of the market. Check out the crossing guard.

A very busy Savusavu bus depot. They add extra buses during Christmas week. All the buses we saw were standing room only going both ways.

After some chicken fried rice for lunch, we went to the bank and got on the Nagigi bus home to Siga Siga. Then we wrapped our presents. Some of our neighbor friends, Seruwaia and Shahista, came for quick visits in the afternoon. They beaded with Tica while I clowned around.

We had dinner at the fanciest (read only fancy) restaurant in town called Surf And Turf. The menu included shrimp & pumpkin bisque, crab & fern salad, lobster, turkey & potatoes and lime ice for dessert. I wasn’t expecting such a fancy menu. I tried everything though. I only liked the turkey and the ice. The lobster was pretty good. A lot of people we knew were also there but we mostly kept to ourselves. We talked about what we were thankful for and our hopes for 2010. We didn’t really get to do that at Thanksgiving.

Our Christmas Miracle Picture: Taken on Christmas Eve on
Savusavu Bay just before we sat down to dinner.

We took a cab home and hurried to put some cookies and wine out for Santa. We had to leave the cookie bag closed to keep the ants away. We also cleaned up the house a bit. We didn’t bring our stockings to Fiji so we put Post It notes with our names on them to show Santa where to put the presents. Then we went to bed.

It was a long night for Tica and me. I got about an hour of sleep. I snuck out once to see if Santa had come. (He had!) That is a record as usually I make a few trips. We woke up for good at 6am but Mom and Dad had asked us to wait until 7. We spent the hour waiting and looking at the things that Santa had brought. Santa left a pile of candy and presents for each of us under the Post It notes. My presents were wrapped in orange paper, Tica’s in purple and Mom and Dad’s in turquoise.

The Drury "Tree" on Christmas Day at Siga Siga

We woke Mom and Dad up at 7am and went into the living room to open our presents. Just like at home, Mom and Dad had to make coffee first. Our presents from Santa had a definite theme of candy, food and Fijian crafts. They included a shark tooth necklace for me, a scuba diving magazine for Mom, pastels for Tica and lots of taco seasoning for Dad. We had a very nice breakfast made by Mom and Tica. There was bacon, pancakes and pineapples. Then it was on to more presents! Mom got a kava bowl from Dad. Tica got a Fiji pareu from me. Dad got a shirt from Mom. I got a fishing trip for when Reed, Joli, Ryan and Georgia come to visit.

While we were opening presents, our neighbors brought over some more gifts, which is the custom here. They brought Christmas cake, watermelon, candles and a box of potpourri. We gave the kids some of the pile of candy that Santa had brought us.

We spent the rest of the day relaxing pretty much. We made a lot of Skype calls to home. Dad, Mom and Tica went exploring on the reef in front of Oneva. I stayed home and watched The Amazing Race. Seruwaia and Shahista came over to play for a while. Then we sat down to a big dinner of roasted chicken, mashed potatoes and gravy, stuffing and green beans. After dinner, Tica and I watched a movie called Night at the Museum. We had some difficulty choosing what to watch. While Mom and Dad went to visit the neighbors. Apparently they got back at 1:30 am. And that means that Tica and I went to bed at 12:00 or something like that. We all had a huge day.

The way we celebrated Christmas here was similar in a lot of ways to the way we do it at home. We always open our stocking presents first, have breakfast and then open up the rest. We always have a nice dinner. It was weird to not have a tree and I wish we had had real one instead of our little yarn tree.

We also did not have stockings, but we made due with the Post Its. Next year if we are abroad I think we should bring our stockings and some Christmas decorations from home. Or if we are at home to be very thankful for everything we get and all of the things we already have. I would also want to send hope to all of the poor people all over the world! They need food, shelter, clean water and other necessities way more than we need more stuff!

The day after Christmas is Boxing Day. According to Wikipedia, it is celebrated in the United Kingdom, former British colonies like Fiji and other European countries. In the old days, servants took the day off from their duties, preparing beforehand a buffet-style feast for their employers. In modern times many families will still follow this tradition by eating a family-style buffet lunch, with cold cuts rather than a fully-cooked meal. It is a time for family, parlour games and sports in the UK. Many people also use the occasion to give money and other gifts to those who were needy and in service positions.

Here, Boxing Day seems to be another occasion to have get togethers with family and friends. We celebrated by having a barbeque on the beach with the neighbors. There was a lot of alcohol and many flies. We had chicken, lamb, onions, apples, cucumbers, and some chilies. We played a little volleyball and a little soccer but mostly just hung out on the beach. Tica and I climbed trees while everyone else talked and listened to Indian music. Dad and our neighbor's three year old daughter, Tishali, even did some dancing.

Dad and our neighbor Tishali dancing at the BBQ.

Tishali's Dad, Subash, grilling onions on the BBQ

Here in Fiji, Fijians celebrate Christmas by having lots of parties. They visit friends and play games and have lots of fun. Businesses and shops are closed on Christmas Day and Boxing Day. The Indo Fijians go to church and have a much quieter day than we do at home.

We had a great Christmas in Fiji and I wonder where we will be next Christmas. Will we be on the road or at home looking out the window at the rain? I do not know.

1 comment:

  1. Ian, Are you sure we were'nt there sitting on your shoulder? You wrote such an excellent account, we feel like we were thereand can add Boxing Day to the list of reasons to celebrate at Christmas. I especially appreciate your thoughts of others in the world around you, perhaps a new awareness for you. We love you.