Yesterday was a lot of painting, a secret project of Christmas present for ‘mom’, tons of wrapping (well ‘bagging’), visiting in Borel, brining the turkey, getting the stuffing, potato and carrot/yam casserole prepped and of course handing out goats and emailing out goat photos. That’s just my to-do list. Mom did about 3x that, as usual!

Today I slept in. Every other morning we had to be up by 7 for 7:30 devotions and when you’re waking up multiple x in the night to listen to the chorus of goats (I will be hearing bleating in my sleep for weeks I think), roosters and the ‘gang shootout’ sound that is the neighbouring rice mill when it starts up, 7am is VERY early! I heard a new sound at 9:30 this morning as I was enjoying my sleep on the 2nd floor roof deck in my fabulously bug free tent. A slow twangy sound, which turned out to visitor from the southern US. Alexa said there was a guy here who sounded like he was talking underwater, lol. I guess she’s never heard a southern drawl before! The thing about Haiti is that sound travels! FAR!! The concrete here is quite different and instead of muffling sound it seems to amplify it! Mom talking in her bedroom a floor below you can hear on the second floor despite a thick layer of concrete in between. Mom and I talking quietly on the second floor sleep deck about the boys and how they were helpful and amazingly great with the kids (and with a fair amount of shock and awe in our voices) carried far enough for the boys sitting 50 feet away to hear…Mom, we can hear you, ya know!

Today was the day that the Haitian’s celebrate Christmas, mainly this evening, Christmas eve. I scrambled to get ready and into the kitchen when I realized it was 9:30, I had a bird to cook! I cooked, mom ran to thepharmacy‘ for paper plates for the kids, I accepted delivery of another 7 goats from Banika, mom bagged gifts, the boys played, I gave out goats & emailed recipients, I cooked some more, mom ran around doing everything, I un-tanged goats, fed goats, watered goats and finally at 4pm, the festivities started!

The children all received their annual Christmas gift from HATS, a new outfit. They all raced home to put on their clothes and came back for a photo with Mom.

Kids with mom

As we gathered in the devotion/playroom the kids presented mom with their Christmas present for her. Antoinette, one of the house mom’s, was quite concerned the kids would give away the secret since ‘secret’ isn’t a word or concept in their language. Shockingly they didn’t!

Mom getting her gift

 

Christmas present from the kids to mom

Then Haitian Pere Noel handed out presents from the kids and I, each girl a Barbie, each young boy a car and clothes and a game from Vladimy. By this time the kids were hungry (it takes a long time to handout presents to 18 kids) so the House Mom’s served up traditional Haitian fare of Rice, Beans, a chicken leg and they made a festive pink salad. We also gave everyone some ‘Canadian’ food of Roast Turkey, Stuffing, Mashed Baked Potato and Carrot/Yam Casserole. They gamely tried it although a few stuffed the weird Canadian food into their rice. It reminded me of my childhood and of being at friends houses and mixing in the things I didn’t like into what I did so I could choke it down as to not insult anyone. As Luckner says, a Haitian doesn’t feel they’ve eaten a meal unless they have rice, no matter how much they’ve eaten.

Haitian Pere Noel getting socked in the face

Sandra, the 8 month old, who eats canned baby food decided tonight that mom’s food looked better! Within 5 mins she took the spoon from mom and went to town!

Sandra eating mom’s food

 

Graduating to a spoon only 5mins later!

After supper we did the Cado (Presents) brought down from donors by Liette & Yvette when they were here last month. Each child got center stage to open their gifts one by one while all the others watched with big saucer eyes! The grins as each child opened his or her shoebox of clothes, cars or dolls, sunglasses, candy, etc were AMAZING! I was the photog with Sandra in my arms sleeping and loved it! I’ve included a few random photos of the kids opening their gifts, which the babies slept though they were so tired.

Shoebox Gift – Karena (3yrs)

 

Shoebox Gift – Dieunel (5yrs)

 

Shoebox Gift – Vladimy (16yrs)

 

Sandra Conked out

 

My largest baby is tired too!

The true meaning of Christmas is alive and well here. I have had the most relaxed (although by no means have I had more than 30minues of downtime a day, if that) lead up to Christmas ever. No stores, no hustle bustle, no endless baking/eating (well, I’ll address the eating in an upcoming blog!), no hurry scurry or stress to find the ‘it toy of the year’ or the item my child really wanted, since they didn’t make a list this year. It’s been amazing!!!! I told the kids yesterday, the same kids that were (2 of 3) bitchy and complaining about coming, that we were coming back in 2 years to do this again and one of the boys, the one who was going to bring his own knife or gun for protection said ‘do we have to wait that long, can’t we come next year or during Spring Break?’

Merry Christmas Everyone!

~Dana