It’s so much easier to let these holidays slip past without a mention than it is to blow it out all festive and sparkly in this African heat. Though now that we have a bushbaby the former’s not much of an option and I suppose I’d better get used to that. Last year was pretty dull and depressing. No Santa and very little community cheer. It felt like people had their blinders on, only counting down days until departure. This past year our mission has exploded with arriving families. I think the last number I heard was that there are over 50 kids here. When we arrived there were 9, and that’s including my pregnant belly. Kids have a way of forcing our best foot forward. I find myself wanting to make things more and more special for all these little cuties.Last week I invited a couple of girls over to help make cookies. Snakes’ only Christmas request was for an unending supply of kiffles. I’ve made 3 batches now. Each batch makes over 100 cookies. I still have some in the freezer to roll, fill, crimp and bake. After all these years of blogging, it’s the kiffle post that drives the most traffic over, especially this time of year. I get emails from people who grew up in the Allentown-Bethlehem, PA area telling me about their love and nostalgia for kiffles. I love it that memories of a town and season would be linked so strongly to this bite-sized, jam-filled pastry. (An updated kiffle post is on the horizon.)
So with the kitchen wafting sweet buttery jammy perfection, the mood was set. Since there was no Santa last year, Snakes decided to take matters into his own hands and order a suit. He consulted an actor friend who advised he should loosen and drop his jaw when “HoHoHo”-ing. His big debut came when he accompanied the Marines to drop off their collection of toys for a local orphanage.
The kids were thrilled, everyone chanting “PAI NATAL!!!! PAI NATAL!!!! PAI NATAL!!!!” as he walked by, scrambling to reach out for a high-five or a hug from Santa. We were undeniably off to a better season this year than last.
On Christmas Eve night, Santa visited embassy homes, dropping off toys and highlighting “naughty and nice” moments from the past year- which parents had fueled him with ahead of time. A friend, dressed in a silky emerald green dress, joined him as his elf and driver. I stayed home, tucking in the Bushbaby and putting the final touches on dinner with the help of Santa’s elf’s husband. (Wait, who?) When they returned, joined by another couple, we ate and drank into the wee hours on this festive and sparkly night before Christmas.Hope you had a cozy and memorable time, surrounded by family and friends. Remembering always to make the best of your situation, whatever and wherever that might be. Much love and good cheer to you all!