pai natal

suits of many colorsIt’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.IMG_0089Last 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.)

practicing "hohohos"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.IMG_0469IMG_0505Hope 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! IMG_0166


13 thoughts on “pai natal

  1. Merry Christmas! I am so glad you had some sparkle, I think I forced it this year with gritted teeth but darn it we made it happen. Looooove the Santa suit!

  2. ohh your Christmas sounds wonderful! We, as always with Chris’ family, went on a vacation to the beach and the only way to tell its Christmas is the decorations at the resort. Lovely? yes. Incredibly generous? yes. Best in-laws ever? Probably. And yet, if I had my pick, we would stay home, hang out stockings, make a big meal and invite friends over to laugh and drink the night away like you did. Less lonely to me than being on the other side of the world from my family and traditions and everything Christmas ever meant to me before I got married! 🙂

    1. Maybe you can find some middle ground? Hang stockings from doorknobs, pack some tins of spiced pecans, coffee toffee and peppermint bark? Seems like our traditions in the FS need to be imminently transportable. Looking forward to your goa post.

  3. I always enjoy your unique photographic perspective. I love the gorgeous cadence of your writing…I feel that “lush” best describes the imagery you conjure, but as much as I eagerly anticipate your musings I think your photographs are what I enjoy most! I love the way you spot and then capture a perfect picture in what may appear mundane to any other eye. My favorite this go round is the Santa suit in the closet…a bright red slice of holiday magic nestled amid the beige and khaki monotony of everyday. Such a metaphor for adding a bit of daily whimsy to our lives!!!

  4. Way to take things into your own hands and make the holiday a fun one. And you spread the love to a lot of people. Nice! Happy New Year!

    1. Brigid! So happy to see (via FB) that you had an exciting European holiday. Now safely and oh so comfortably back in the states… You are missed though I know you’re happy to be home. Please keep in touch and boa sorte with that job search! Xo

  5. Here’s a bit of a random question: With all that traveling that Snakes does, and his apparent heavy use of suits, I wonder if you could recommend a good suit bag arrangement? My hubby is joining up as a medical officer and as he’s spent most of his career until now in scrubs, we are somewhat clueless as to key points of traveling with suits.

    1. Hmmm.. Well first, congratulations on the new job. We may not be the best to answer this question as he actually doesn’t travel much at this current post. If you guys are joining the FS, I recommend the Facebook group, “trailing houses”. A wealth of experience, info and support. Let me know if you have any more questions! Sorry I can’t help more with the suit situation.

  6. Hi, I just looked through the blog, very well done. I’m sorry we just met your husband down here in Benguela/ Lobito. I invited ya’ll down for a weekend. I hope you take us up on it.
    From Lori Clements

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