December 12, 2009

Our First Christmas

(This is part of an ongoing series chronicling memories of my life growing up as a missionary kid in Vanuatu. For links to previous posts you can go here)

Seeing as how it's less than 2 weeks til Christmas, I thought I'd do a Growing up Island post on Christmas.

Christmas time at Talua was always a little weird. All the students go home, and most of the staff too. For about a week the truck would be piled high several times a day with people and bags on the way into town to catch boats or planes to their respective islands and villages. There is much crying and shaking of hands and waving goodbye.

Then you wake up and the place is eerily quiet. There may be 3 staff families left to keep the collage in order. That year we were the only little kids left so Josh and I play together and the whole collage is our playground.

With less people wanting to go into town when Mum and Dad go in to do the weekly shop we are allowed to come too. Our first Christmas in Vanuatu we go into the bank and they have a TV showing a video of Carols in the Domain. I remember wondering why Mum was crying over a show with singing and fireworks and Humphrey B Bear. I obviously did not know what homesickness was.

We then went to the local grocery store and were greeted by a large Ni-Vanuatu man dressed in a red suit, dripping sweat. Yep, Santa had made it all the way to Santo. He was delighted to see some western kids who would actually know who Santa was. Unfortunately for him our parents were in the ignoring Santa camp (much easier to do when on a tropical island than in a western city, by the way) and to top it off Joshua was terrified of any large men with fake beards and big red suits.

It must have looked funny; a Ni-Vanuatu Santa chasing two white kids around the store. Once we realised that he just wanted to give us lollies we stopped and accepted them from behind Mum's skirt (poor guy!).

Each trip to the post office produced parcels from friends and family back in Australia, and they were secreted to the top of Mum and Dads wardrobe the minute we came home.

Mum and Dad tried to give us a Christmas we were use to. We had a little tree and the parcels held presents which we opened Christmas morning. Being the first Christmas of our missionary life we were sent more that year than any other. After the first year people get use to you being away and only those really close to you send something.

On actual Christmas day we had planned to go to a village for church because there wasn't enough people to have a service at Talua. But a storm was near and the rain was coming down so heavily you couldn't see out the window. The principal sent over his son to say we wouldn't try to drive in this weather so we had Christmas just the four of us; in our little house on a tropical Island.

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