I can`t believe that this is my third Christmas in South America. As much as this is a cliche, time really does fly by!
The first Christmas I was in Brazil with my best friend`s family-in-law and last year I was here in Santiago with all of Rodrigo`s family. Although I am in Santiago again this year, already this has proven to be a very different Christmas shared with friends from 4 different continents.
My dad always used to jokingly say “Christmas is cancelled this year”. It obviously never was, but this year I decided to take his words to heart. I haven`t cancelled Christmas as such, I have just refocused how I want to celebrate it. At the beginning of December I wrote a post about Christmas consumerism and the conundrum I faced with the decorating of the rather large Christmas tree passed onto us by Rodrigo`s mom. So I got my creative juices flowing and made all of the decorations myself using whatever materials I had around the house. The only thing I bought was spray paint to add a gold touch and a string of Christmas lights. Otherwise the tree is 100% homemade. I think it turned out well.
The Koch-Ferrada Christmas Tree
I have carried on the tradition of home made paper stars which comes from my dads family. But this year, instead of using new paper, I cut up some old work reports I had at home. I figured it was a good way to recycle them! The coca-cola star is made from a tin can and the golden flower-shaped decoration is cut from a toilet paper roll. Other “baubles” were made from old gift bags and boxes I had lying around the house.
Whenever we get take away sushi, we end up with extra chopsticks, so I decided to use a few of them to make some more stars. The bells are made from the plastic covers of the reports I mentioned covered in used tinfoil.
So that was the decorating aspect of Christmas taken care of. Then this last weekend, two events took place that will definitely be what I remember most about Christmas 2012. Singing Christmas carols is a tradition that doesn`t seem to be such a big thing here in Chile. I have fond memories of Carols by Candlelight held in a neighbour`s barn (that neighbour being at least 8 or so km away since we were in the countryside). We would make our candle holders out of paper plates or plastic bottles a few days before and then have a wonderful evening singing all the traditional carols. Growing up in the countryside with our extended family spread around the world, our neighbours became our family and when I think of Christmas as a child, I think of our family friends from Roodekrans and surroundings. I decided that I wanted to do something similar here, however since I have no musical talent or singing abilities (my rendition of The Twelve Days of Christmas when I was 10 proved that), I had to rope in some friends. Thankfully I have many friends who combine both both the singing and the musical abilities.
On Friday afternoon, my friend Patricia and I went to the Old Age Home where Rodrigo`s dad is, to play some carols for the residents. Patricia did a similar thing last year and it was a great success, so we decided to do it again. We had only planned on Patricia playing a few songs on her piano, but the staff at the Home turned it into a really wonderful party which I think the residents and some of the visiting family members enjoyed. We left after nearly 4 hours and I can definitely say it was during this celebration that I finally got into the Christmas spirit!
Patricia and her friend Daniel playing some carols for the residents.
This lady, Adriana plays the piano and so at one point she came to stand next to Patricia and see her play up-close.
Then later on, she played a few songs on her own piano which is in the home. The piano is more than 100 years old and is from Germany. She played so beautifully.
Then there was dancing, at least by one of the nurses and a son visiting his dad.
The second celebration was also of a musical nature – On Saturday night some friends came around to our apartment for what a friend from Sri Lanka later called “A not so Silent Night…” This was in reference to the music and singing, not only carols, but loads of Chilean music too.
It started off with Patricia playing a few carols on her piano. I especially loved the German carols she played which reminded me of decorating the tree at home with my dad while listening to the same carols on our old record player. (Photo credit: Chaminda Goonetilleke)
Soon the night transformed into an awesome jam session not only with the piano… (Photo credit: Chaminda Goonetilleke)
But also, a guitar and an accordion being played by the very talented Gomez Siblings, (Photo credit: Chaminda Goonetilleke)
Patricia´s ver well travelled flute (her dad posted it to Chile, but due to a mix up with the name, it arrived, but was sent back to Germany and then resent to Chile with the right details). (Photo credit: Chaminda Goonetilleke)
Matias and his penny whistle, which gave a lovely Irish sound to the festivities (Photo credit: Chaminda Goonetilleke)
Matias is a man of many musical talents, this time with his harmonica (Photo credit: Chaminda Goonetilleke)
and to add an authentic note to “The Little Drummer Boy”, Pablo had to improvise with a box of CDs turned into a drum. I will have to make a plan for my brother to bring over a Djembe when he visits next year to ensure an authentic percussion section to our orchestra… (Photo credit: Chaminda Goonetilleke)
Singing along to a Chilean Carol “Una Noche Estrellada” using my cellphone for the lyrics (Photo credit: Chaminda Goonetilleke)
The music went on until nearly 5am and it even included an impromptu chorus line.
Rodrigo and I pretended to play the piano at one point. At least Rodrigo contributed with his great singing voice. I on the other hand, left all the music to my very talented friends and just enjoyed the great sounds and very special company. Being with friends and celebrating life like this, to me is what Christmas is all about. (Photo credit: Chaminda Goonetilleke)
Merry Christmas to all my family and friends spread around the world. Each and every one of you are in my thoughts today. I love you all and miss you so much!