Christmas mass wasn’t as long as I was anticipating. I was thinking it would be about 3 hours, it was only two and a little bit. Of course, we couldn’t be done there. We went from Christmas mass straight into a mass baptism. Here, they do baptisms as one big ceremony that includes all the babies born between baptism day and whenever the last baptism day was. Christmas baptism had about 25 babies.
The godparents all line up facing the altar, holding their godchild. The priest first checked the baptismal names of each of the babies by walking down the line and reading from a paper. Once he had them all straight and everyone was in line where they were meant to be, he did the first bit of talking. Then he started at one end of the line with a bottle of holy water (I do mean a plastic water bottle full) and marked crosses on each baby’s forehead. Then he did some more talking and repeated the process. For the third round the god parents brought each child up to the altar where he read their name and holy watered them again. The last round of holy water to the forehead was done by one of the Catechists while the priest read something else. All in all, it took another hour and a half.
We were in the church building until 1:30 in the afternoon. We were supposed to be catching the boat back to the village but we didn’t know when the boat would be coming back to get the next load of people. I was hungry with no prospects for food. Luckily for us, the deputy principal of Jason’s school was having his baby baptized. He invited us to his house for lunch.
We stopped by Jason’s papa’s house and told him where we’d be so when the boat came he could send a pikininifor us. We went to his house and hung out for a few hours. We listened for the boat but never heard it come through. We ate heaping plates of food. Rice, laplap taro, yam, chicken, fish, beef, green beans, ramen noodles and cake. They kept giving us food until we literally couldn’t eat anymore.
Around 3:30, we pled full bellies escaped to go find our boat. We got down to the dock and found out the boat had left without us and without sending someone to tell us it had arrived. Typical. Jason’s papa is getting pretty good a ditching us or just forgetting to send someone to get us.
We walked back to the village and wished a lot of people a Merry Christmas along the way. We got back to the house and went to spel smol. I read a book and Jason took a nap. Once we were both feeling a little more lively, it was time to brave the family dinner.
It really didn’t feel like Christmas. Last year it wasn’t as strikingly not-Christmas, but this year I do feel like things are missing. It is hot and humid and I’ve heard less than twenty Christmas carols in the last month. I miss snow and ice skating on Christmas morning. I miss sledding. I miss pine trees and tinsle and the ridiculous remixes of “Jingle Bells” and “Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer.”
I have wonderful friends here and the thrill of adventure, but I miss my family and the comfort of the holidays I know. I guess that’s what it means to be living abroad, right?