Sunday, December 31, 2017

A Christmas party for the ages

Latinos celebrate Christmas Eve like Americans celebrate New Year's Eve, a huge party. This was our first Christmas in Latin America, for in years past, we flew back to the states to be with family. We heard of the huge Christmas parties before but until you need a designated walker to walk you home, one can't fully relate. There were 60 adults and kids cutting loose, singing and dancing, launching fireworks and genuinely partying all night.
   The kids decided to do karaoke, all on their own and in front of everyone. The girls decided there would be a cash prize for the winner. No cash? Well, it was an opportunity for the girls to hit up the adults for donations. It was adorable watching the mini entrepreneurs approach the adults saying there would be a talent show and they needed money for the winners. The moms and dads donated 10 to 20 cordobas (30 to 60 cents) a piece. Once the kids collected the money, their show began. Singing in front of large groups can be scary which made watching the girls sing on their own, in front of everyone, all the better.
   The rockets, firecrackers and all other manner of TNT were under the purview of the dads. Living in a country that equates noise with happiness can be challenging at times but when purchasing explosives, it rarely gets any better than here. The music was blaring at night club level, the kids were screaming in anticipation, the wives were backing up to their safe "Mom Zones" and in a flash, the dads erased all evidence of human evolution in their quest for fire. The thunder, crackling, popping and explosions drove the crowd mad with excitement, well except for the moms that is. Ultimately, colorful bombs were flying in the sky, M80s were popping on the ground and the kids were running around with their sparklers like a rave party. It was awesome!
   Salsa, Cumbia, Merengue, whatever played, nearly everyone danced. Dancing in Latin America is like breathing air in the states, it's an automatic response. The old danced, the young danced, and after a while it become a group hypnotism. We just moved with the beat and the evening became perfect. In fact, at 2am when the music had to be turned off, people, including my wife, were bummed out. I haven't seen her in such a party mood in more than a decade...rock on girl. The best part of it all is we live next door so getting home was a breeze, hence the designated walker comment mentioned above, hee, hee, hee.
   On a side note, our friends opened their lovely home for all to enjoy. They cooked a 12 pound turkey and roasted a hundred pound hog along with all of the side dishes. Drinks were flowing like the Colorado river too. Their hospitality is unparalleled. This party capped nearly 10 days of nonstop partying and was a Christmas party for the ages. Jose Luis and Cecilia are genuinely wonderful people and we are so happy to have them as friends.   

Setting up for dinner.
A full bar welcomed the guest as they arrived.

This guy has seen better days.

The food was insanely good.

Jose Luis, wearing the blue shirt, is a super cool guy.

The lights kept changing colors adding to the party atmosphere. 

Beautiful women for a picture. Cecilia, far left, was the hostess and is my wife's really good friend.

Karaoke singers.

Watching the kids sing was a hoot.

Making crazy for the camera.

Making crazy for the camera
I wonder if she feels like a fairy with a magic wand.

Kids love sparklers.

Party time in the backyard.

Dancing with sparklers, it doesn't get any better.

Tried my best to get a picture of the skyrockets.

Our friends just moved here from Canada and love it.

Dancing into the wee hours of the morning.

Christmas 2017 our Nicaraguan celebration

One of the best aspects about our friends that we've made in Nicaragua is that we have similar parenting styles. We want our kids to have a great time, appreciate what the get, and keep it simple. One of the moms asked us ahead of time if we were going to keep Christmas low key. My wife responded by saying, "Oh yes, they are each getting one good present and a couple of small ones." The other mom, who recently moved here, responded with visible relief by saying, "It has gotten crazy in the states with gifts and that she wished to scale back on all of the stuff." We chuckled and joked about how she entered the "No stuff zone" when she chose to live in Granada. 
   As for the kids, they all survived their spartan Christmas, I promise. In fact, as I was tucking the girls into bed after all the celebrations were done and Sierra said, "Dad, this was the best Christmas ever." It got my wife and I thinking about the unnecessary pressure we put on ourselves to make things just right. Heck, I even remember in years past that our daughters' favorite gifts were the cardboard boxes the toys came in, and that's the truth. For the record, I am not saying we should give children cardboard boxes as gifts, although the thought did cross my mind a time or two. What kids want most is togetherness, plain and simple. 
   The lady, mentioned above, who recently moved to Granada, had an epiphany, and I just want to share it with you. For all the parents out there who racked up huge bills buying presents so that they can be sold for next to nothing at the next garage sale, we understand. We were there once too. You are not a servant to your children, serving their every beckoning call. It is okay to say no. You are not a concierge service and they are not your boss. Things don't make people happy, experiences do. 

Speaking of experiences, this Christmas season was a series of loosely connected parties, BBQs, fiestas and anything else a group of 30 to 50 friends can do. The kids played until they passed out, the moms solved every issue known to man, and the dads spoke pure gibberish and burst out laughing every 27 seconds. Being part of the dad group I can assure you that nothing was solved other than planning the next party. We capped our Christmas festivities on the slopes of Mombacho volcano at our friend's parents house in the jungle. 

Christmas concert at parque Xalteva

Our school had their annual Christmas concert at parque Xalteva. The kids had a blast singing and horsing around in front of their families, friends and onlookers. For the tourists happening to pass by in their horse drawn carriages, they got a special treat as well. Hearing the Christmas songs set to the backdrop of this very historic park was an enjoyable experience. My daughter, Zoe, was worried about falling as she is still unstable without her walker. She was the only child to sit out during the performance. Though her knee is rehabilitating nicely and she has regained full range of motion she is still cautious about falling and rebreaking her knee again. Zoe did, however, participate in the last song of the concert along with the entire student body and staff. Zoe was encouraged and supported by her favorite teacher, Ms. Margarita, to participate in the finale. Speaking as a parent with a child that needed extra help, having a caring teacher turn my daughters sadness to happiness was a wonderful sight to see. As for the Christmas performance, it never gets dull watching the students and staff have so much fun. 

Farm fun in Nicaragua

For our regular readers, you will recognize this farm from an entry last spring, when the animals were having their offspring. Well, spring came early this year. The heavy rains made for a good year for the grasses and with it, the early arrivals. The grasses not only triggered an early birthing season for the cuddly animals but also for the rodents which will in-turn, trigger a mini predator boom of snakes, birds, etc. Nature quickly finds ways to correct any excesses that a bumper year would bring. For us, we have already seen a few snakes in our yard along with a skunk, possums and other such animals. We are bracing for a lot of slimy, creepy, slithering critters as the dry season slowly approaches. Living an indoor/outdoor lifestyle has it advantages and disadvantages but all-in-all hearing, smelling and experiencing nature makes it worth it.   
    As for the farm, and the children who live it from time to time, life is good. The smiles in the pictures tell it all.