It has been a Hille family tradition since the late 1950’s to listen to an album called Calypso Christmas on Christmas morning. If you google the album title, you’ll learn that we aren’t the only family with this tradition, but growing up it sure felt like it–and we kind of like to believe it. The first song on the album is called “Christmas in de Tropics” and I have to say, it’s never felt more appropriate.
This is my first Christmas away from home, and by home I mean my family. I’ve celebrated this holiday in Kentucky, St. Louis, Florida and Seattle, but always with the same people–my parents, grandparents, aunt, uncle and cousins. And for Will, this is his first Christmas away from family AND away from Winchester, Kentucky. It’s a bitter-sweet time for us. Bitter because of being away from home, and being away from a culture that really celebrates the holiday season. It’s also sweet because we were having a really hard time figuring out how to split or share the holidays back home, and this will be the first Christmas that we get to spend the entire day together.
I must say, so far we’ve been doing a pretty good job celebrating the season even if it’s 90 degrees and the mosque is blaring down the road incessantly. We’ve immersed ourselves in our favorite holiday music, worked on a number of Christmasy projects together and even had hot chocolate a couple of times. Back home we never would have had enough free time to sit down and listen to A Charlie Brown Christmas while making paper snowflakes together.
It also helps that we have some major plans for the holidays. We have rented an apartment in Surabaya for two days and we are hosting a Christmas Eve party for any and all Peace Corps volunteers who are around at that time. You know I love to plan a Christmas party! Some of our closest PC friends are staying with us and I sewed stockings for all of them out of batik fabric. We’ll probably spend Christmas Day Skyping with family, visiting our favorite pub in Surabaya and maybe seeing a movie at the fancy theater. Then we hit the beach.
On the 26th we are flying to Lombok where we will lay by the beach for four days before hopping on a boat to snorkel for four days in Gili Trawangan. Then we’ll speed boat over to Bali to meet up with our good friend Mitch for the last three days of our vacation before heading back to site.
These plans will help us combat the Christmas blues. As will these lyrics from “Christmas in de Tropics”:
When I was a child I do believe we decorated the house on Christmas Eve
With trinkets and tropical fruit, for you see, in the islands we had not a Christmas tree
The stockings were hung on the best post tree, for nobody in the island had a chimney
It’s Christmas in de tropics!