The (Almost) Christmas Grumpus

Foreign Service LifeMalawi
January 14, 2018

Novakistan Readers – How are you? Has it really been a month since I last posted?! Whoops. That might need to be a New Year’s Resolution…

Well, let’s just jump right in, as I have lots to fill you in on!

Christmas seemed to arrive slower than usual this year. Perhaps it had something to do with the fact that Nia was done with school on December 8th (and didn’t resume for a month!!). This is so everyone (but us) could go somewhere fun for the holidays. You probably don’t feel bad for me because I get in plenty of travel during a given year, but I swear this place is a ghost town during the holidays. And for me the holidays = lots of people having big parties. But we were not leaving because Nick not only had to cover his job, but back up someone else as well.

So I might have gotten a wee bit crabby. In fact, my family started calling me the Christmas Grumpus and I was sure this was going to be the worst Christmas ever (I know, I know… I can be a little dramatic at times). Things were looking bleak and we had nothing (and I mean NOTHING planned for Christmas Eve or Christmas Day other than skyping with our families).

I tend to struggle during Christmas time overseas because I think as parents we try and recreate the magical Christmases from our youth. And for me that was synonymous with caroling, hot chocolate, heavy sweaters, fires, decorations galore, snow and huge family gatherings. Compare that to my current situation where it’s rainy, hot, barely decorated and everyone flees town for the holidays. And so every year I dream of recreating my youth and then get frustrated by my reality. Now, you may read this and think we’ve had some really bad Christmases. That is actually not the case. While I start with wanting my “childhood ideal” initially, at some point close to Christmas I give up that dream and decide to make the best of what we have (in this case swimming pools, iced drinks and bonfires). Once I do that, we actually end up creating something magical. But for some reason I have to go through this process each and every year.

By December 23rd I had finally worn Nick down and he agreed that we could have a small Christmas night bonfire with the 5 other people in town. Imagine my surprise when 35 people showed up! Turns out we weren’t the only ones in town…  :) I was secretly delighted and I believe his exact words were, “I don’t know why I listen to you Sarah Novak. You’ve bamboozled me again. You convinced me that no one was in town and that there’d be 10 people at most and now we’re having a massive party.” Well who’s the Christmas Grumpus now, huh Mr. Nicholas???

It was absolutely marvelous celebrating with so many of our friends. We did a hysterical white elephant gift exchange and enjoyed s’mores and hot dogs over the fire. Not quite a MN Christmas, but definitely a quintessential African one!

We also ended up getting some last minute invites for cocktails and games on the 23rd and hot chocolate and a Polar Express viewing on the 24th. So in reality we had 3 nights of social activities for Xmas!

And our Christmas recap wouldn’t be complete without some talk of Santa. Good news: he came! And once again he had gifts for not only Nia, but for Michelle and Evelyn too! Here’s almost 6 year old Evelyn:

And 6 and 1/4 year old Nia.

And 10 and 3/4 year old Michelle. Aren’t they a sweet-looking bunch? We do love them so and the idea of leaving in 5 months is really hard to think about. Uggghh.

A few last unrelated items. I’ve been kicking ass with walking lately, logging 10-13,000 steps on average a day. The weather here is perfection and between that and fun walking groups, I’ve really begun looking forward to exercising each day.

Nia’s big news is that she lost 3 teeth over holiday break! Chewing has been a bit tough but boy oh boy is she proud of those lost teeth. I can’t get over how different she looks without teeth. What do you think?? That’s all for today folks. More postings to come (soon, I promise) on our India prep and other Lilongwe happenings.  :)

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