Back in DC, Amy and I used to throw a big Christmas party every year. Living in a small village in rural Indonesia hasn’t put an end to that tradition, although it’s forced us to change it slightly. Last year we were able to carry on the tradition in Surabaya with friends, but this year we will be traveling and won’t have the chance.
So, we had a Christmas party at our house with some of our best friends—the kids that live in our village.
We were a little concerned that their families wouldn’t be too happy with us having a Christmas-focused party, maybe they would think we were trying to convert their kids or something. I planned to talk to the kids about Christmas first and let them know that there is the religious aspect, but also the non-religious aspects: Santa, decorations, parties and all that.
However, upon coming in and seeing the stack of wrapped presents for our gift-exchange game, they could have cared less about my explanation and wanted to get down to business.
First, though, they asked about Christmas stockings (made from batik) hanging on the wall. I explained that back home, we put those up and then Santa Clause leaves presents in them on Christmas eve. These kids barely knew who Santa Clause was, he definitely isn’t a part of their lives or traditions, but for some reason I felt uncomfortable telling them that he wasn’t real.
Our first game was a “white elephant” gift game. However, rather than fighting over the gifts, or ruthlessly trading for something better, they all just wanted to open a present.
So, with that settled, we moved on to the main event—decorating Christmas cookies. The kids had been asking us for awhile if we could all cook together, so we decided this would be a fun time to do that.
Amy had made the cookies the night before, so we gave each kid several cookies and supplied them with homemade frosting and several types of sprinkles that Amy’s mom sent us last year.
At first the kids were judicious about the amount of sprinkles on their cookies, but then one asked us how much they were allowed to use. “Use it all!” I responded. “They are not going home with us and they are only for Christmas, use them all!” That’s all the kids needed to know. Most piled their cookies sky-high with sprinkles. After the cookies had all been decorated, some kids were tipping up the jars to their mouths, inhaling any sugary goodness that remained.
One of the highlights of the night dealt with our music selection. To keep the party ‘classy’, we were playing the beautiful music from Charlie Brown’s Christmas Special. When the familiar theme song (Linus and Lucy) came on, the youngest kid yelled “Lucy!” “Lucy?” we responded. “Yeah! Lucy!” he said as he pointed at the speakers. Its weird what parts of our culture make it over here.
As with any good party, it ended with a rousing game of UNO, probably our most successful contribution to the culture of our village.
It was a really great night. And the kids were on their best behavior, which is a rare occurrence.
It wasn’t quite this from our DC days:
But, it was almost as much fun.