I’m going to be humming “Feliz Navidad” for weeks.
Today was my Christmas celebration with some of my old classmates, at F. and Fr.’s house in the countryside beyond Limache. (Within a few weeks of meeting us, the thoughtful F. had suggested that we could all come over for Christmas if we wished to, since we were mostly family-less here in Chile. Knowing that I would have a place to go on Christmas was a great relief in the weeks leading up to it.)
I met M. at the metro station. R. joined us just in time to leap onto the train that C. was already on, and, successfully grouped up, the four of us settled in for the ride to the country. Even though it was Christmas, the train was crowded, and people seemed even more amiable than usual. There were the usual train-car musicians: our car had a man who played the pipes beautifully, before passing the hat.
When we arrived in Limache, Fr. was there with his pickup truck. We hopped into the back of the truck bed, and let the wind tousle our hair as we drove out into the country. When we arrived at their house, Christmas dinner was almost ready. We did a brief gift exchange (M. found fabulous mice socks for me!) and finished setting the table, all while swooping by a plate of delicious Christmas sweets to nab buttery cookies. Then, we gathered outdoors for the meal.
Our Christmas dinner included: roast turkey, goose (the first time I’d tried it), roast potatoes, seasoned mushrooms, green beans, and apple stuffing, as well as two German dishes: Rotkohl (tangy red cabbage) and some sort of starchy potato dumpling. F. joked that since I was American, I would know if they’d cooked the turkey improperly, but even to my oh-so-experienced American tongue, the turkey — and everything else — was delicious and sating.
It was still hot and sunny after we finished our dinner, so we spread a blanket on the grass and relaxed for a while, all feeling quite whale-like. C. and Fr. engaged in a game of chess, while M., R., F. and I played several boisterous games of Uno, playfully foiling each others’ plans.
After a few hours’ digestion, Fr.’s mother invited us to share a tiramisu she had made. I wouldn’t have thought it possible to make such a perfect tiramisu with the available Chilean ingredients, but she succeeded. We followed that morsel with tiny cups of espresso.
We lounged around inside for a while longer. I played a few rounds of darts with C., and then wandered outside to fiddle with my camera amidst the flora of their home.
The rest of the evening was uneventful but restful. Fr. and C. did target-shooting with rifles for a while (I tried one shot), and they tussled merrily with the young neighbor-boy. The sun set slowly among the scattered trees.
The others decided to stay the night at F. and Fr.’s, but I opted to head home on the last train (anticipating better sleep at home, since I was still fighting off a headache). F. and Fr. dropped me at the metro station, with their usual warm goodbyes and kind invitations for further social-time. I cuddled up next to the train window, and counted the remaining Christmas lights standing out from the night as the train rocked us on our way home.