Feliz Natal, Frohe Weihnachten, Mele Kalikimaka, and Merry Christmas to everyone! It is amazing, my first Christmas away from home and as different as it has been, it was a wonderful and humbling experience. There was food, family, friends, music, dancing, and overall a fun time! I thought it would seem very awkward to celebrate such a huge day without family, but everyone here makes us feel like we are part of their Brazilian family and we love them for that.
Each year we try to send out a Christmas card to all of our friends and family. For those of you that are reading this and thinking “I never got a card” well in the 6 years we have been together, I think we have only managed to send a card out one year, and it was awfully late (I think we finally sent it our in Feb or March if I remember correctly), so we thought we would take this opportunity to briefly tell everyone about this past year as well as tell you about our first Brazilian Christmas together.
The start of 2005, I was two months into my new role as a Branch Manger in
Downtown Seattle and Heather was starting her new job at the Seattle Passport Agency, processing passports. During this time, we managed to slip away for about two weeks in April on a vacation to Cancun, Mexico where after 10 days of freaking out about how I was going to perform the task, I asked Heather to marry me at sunset on the beach and she was kind enough to say yes (I was happy about the “yes” part). For those of you wanting to know the wedding date, well that is still in the works, but it will be sometime in the next 5 years, we are sure of that.
In August, I said goodbye to some of the best people I have ever worked with in my life. I was very fortunate to have such great co-workers and very fortunate they are still talking to me since my leaving. Heather had also forged some great friendships with her co-workers, but I don’t think she misses the work that much. It was a hard decision to make, but we’re happy to be fulfilling our dream of world travel.
After getting rid of most of our possessions and tying
up any loose ends in Seattle, we decided to take a 2-3 week road trip down the west coast that turned into 6 weeks. It was a fantastic experience and we would do it again in a heartbeat. You can read about this trip in our blogs titled West Coast Tour 1
and West Coast Tour 2
if you haven't already. We then spent some much needed time with our families and then headed to Brazil the day after Turkey Day.
As for our family, everyone is doing fantastic. My mom is back to working in Idaho, but traveling a lot, and Ed’s company is still growing! My sisters Jessica has two beautiful daughters, Gabrielle (1 yr) and Alicia (7 yrs) and lives in Idaho Falls. Fred is living in Seattle and recently went on a trip to Italy where he proposed to Laila…she too said yes. Dad and Julie are still living in Idaho Falls and both are doing well. My little sis Aubrey will be 10 in about a week, Nicole will graduate from high school this year and head off to Utah for college, and Britney is in college and working in Idaho Falls.
Heather parent’s Mary and Larry are in
Spokane, WA and paddle their canoes whenever they can. Heather’s sister Crystal and her husband Patrick are in Pullman, WA. In their busy lives they still find time for adventures like climbing Mt. Rainer this past year, very impressive! Heather’s brother Matt and his wife Stacy are still living in Spokane and their kids Crystal, Dallas, Jimmy, and Alex are growing up fast. We miss you all!
For those of you who are having a “White Christmas” we are jealous. It isn’t as easy as you think celebrating Christmas in hot weather; you really break a sweat while trying to eat all the food and deserts! Christmas in Brazil has it similarities to an American Christmas, but overall it has been a different experience. Families put up Christmas trees (the fake kind) and some hang stockings, but most of the festivities start at night on Christmas Eve.
Usually the celebration begins late on Christmas Eve and goes until the wee hours of Christmas day. There is a big meal, music, dancing, and is a great time for families to get together and celebrate. As for us, we left around 9pm and headed over to Ana and Samuel’s house,
the sister and brother in-law to the family we are staying with. They had styled the house with many lights and decorations and there were tables all around in the back covered with white and gold linen.
We sat out back conversing with many relatives and friends (about 35 people were there) and enjoyed some Yule-tided spirits and appetizers. Most of the people there we had met before, but the ones that we hadn’t greeted us as though we were family. Heather was in the kitchen chatting it up with some family when someone opened the fridge and a bottle fell out. It shattered and somehow glass shards flew towards Heather and she ended up with a few battle wounds on her feet (nothing serious, but worth mentioning). I wasn’t close by, but some family came and up took care of her for me.
After 3 hours of eating appetizers, chatting, and drinking, it was 12am, officially Christmas, so the feast began. There was a large table and sideboard laden with a lot of great foods, and a whole table devoted to many great desserts; so many in fact I only sampled maybe ¼ of what there was
to offer. After the food, we continued to chat and get some dancing in. Gift giving isn’t as big here as it is in the US, but we burned some CD’s with some American Music and handed them out to the siblings and to other relatives—a little “Thank you” for taking us under their wing.
Around 3am, Heather and I were having a hard time keeping our eyes open, so we headed home to get some sleep. We woke around 11am to find everyone was still in bed, so we popped in a movie, grabbed a mango, relaxed, and that is what we have been doing all day, nothing but laying around!
So there you have it, a Brazilian Christmas—full of new family, friends, and food! Thank you all for your continued support and comments on our blog, it is great to hear from all of you and we wish you and your families the Merriest of Christmases and the most Prosperous of New Years.
Love Ben and Heather
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