· · · Season's Greetings · · ·
Dec 25, 2005
We want to wish everyone a happy, safe holiday and New Year. We send kisses to California, hugs to Hawaii, and we miss you in Minneapolis!!
We wish we were with our families today but know you are close in our heart.
We arrived in Santiago yesterday, Dec 23, after driving from Pucon to Temuco to catch our flight to Santiago. Driving our Peugeot from Temuco to Santiago would have been over 400 miles so we caught a quick flight instead and caught up on sleep at Pilar and Florencio's when we landed, and woke up in time for a festive dinner at their home with 3 of Pilar's daughters: Andrea, Pilar, Ana Maria. Ana Maria was with her husband, Armando, and their 6 adorable and beautiful children. They drove up from Puerta Varas that day to be in town for the holiday festivities. We were excited to meet the rest of the children and the entire family joined us for another fabulous dinner at Pilar's and Florencio's home. The holiday cheer continued into the next day on Christmas Eve as we then joined the lovely, gracious and fun family of John, Marcela, Francisca, Jose Tomas, Rosario and Andres.
With the whole family, we attended an outdoor mass in Las Condes, with over 2000 people in attendance. It was a night mass, but the sun was shining bright late into the evening. Christmas songs, sung in Spanish of course, consumed the crowd and flags from every country were brought out on stage. There were multiple choirs, alter boys, angels, and a huge thatched roof Christmas manger with people in bright costumes representing all the appropriate figures for the manger scene. It was an emotional, powerful, and beautiful site. As we sang ''Noche de Paz....Noche de Paz...'' (silent night, silent night), it was a tad bittersweet, as we listened to the songs in Spanish, which were beautiful to hear in a different language. The Spanish lyrics to the same tunes rang true and familiar, making us a bit nostalgic, missing our families back home.
After the mass, we had dinner at John and Marcela's beautiful home. It was special to be invited for their family holiday dinner which included tasty, sweet, mango piscos (my new favorite drink) and frosted, colorful Christmas cookies that look a lot like the ones I made as a kid with my parents, brother and sister. Again, a jolt of nostalgia hit me, but I smiled as I remembered the moments in our Wisconsin kitchen, painting cookies and looking through the windows, watching the white snow whirl and fall.
We got a kick out of the kids' excitement as they anxiously waited for Santa's arrival. The shrieking, giggling, laughing and anticipation filled the room and when it was time to look for Santa, a bunch of us went outside and wandered the streets of the neighborhood, looking in bushes, behind fences, and up in the trees. We even asked a few people in the street if they had seen Santa to which they replied, ''Si! Allí!'' and pointed to various places down our path. We didn't find Santa on our journey outside, so we went back to the house and we discovered that he dropped by while we were out! Apparently, we just missed him. There were presents under the tree and the kids scrambled to open them. For the rest of the evening, we watched the excitement, thrill, love and magic that defines what the holiday season is all about.
The Christmas cheer continued the next day, as we went to Ignacio and Titi's lovely home for a holiday lunch and more celebration. Bessie, Patricio, Dolores, Philepe, Paulina, Eduardo, Pilar and all the adorable, sweet children were in attendance. A beautiful Christmas tree graced the living room as kids splashed and jumped in the pool outside. We once again watched the excited children rip open the wrapping on the presents and scream in delight. It was a festive, hot, sunny day again and the warmth of the day and the warmth of the people made us feel so welcomed and loved. Many laughs and warm hugs were once again shared.
As for our last night in Chile, we had an unforgettable evening filled with laughs, smiles and sushi as we celebrated at Dolores' house. She has a lovely home, filled with beautiful art and an energetic spirit. Joining us for champagne and cheer were her boyfriend, Philipe, as well as her sisters Pilar and Paulina, and Pilar's husband, Eduardo. I think they will all agree that my Spanish has improved significantly since my first day in Chile...hahaha...that's an inside joke that they will appreciate! :)
As I previously mentioned, the past few days have been a little bittersweet, as we have had time to stop moving, relax for a moment, and think about our families back home during the holiday. It is a bittersweet holiday. This is Roland's and my first Christmas away from our parents and immediate families. At the same time, it was our first Christmas being married and will probably be one of our only holidays that we will celebrate being in the midst of such an incredible adventure.
We'd like to thank the families and people who have opened their houses, arms and spirit and let us be a part of their holiday celebrations in Santiago. We have been graced with such hospitality and generosity. Thank you for your delicious meals, your yummy Christmas cookies, your thoughtful gifts, your big smiles, and your Christmas spirit.
Roland and I are thousands of miles away but the families here have made us feel as close as we can get to home.
Love, Anngi and Roland