Digging a little bit deeper, it was very different not to enjoy Christmas with our families. It was very sad not to eat a big Christmas meal with them, or watch them all open presents. At the same time, it was important for us to establish our own Christmas joy independent from them. No one wants to sulk on Christmas, whatever the reason. :) As difficult as it was to spend our first Christmas away from home, we actually had a really great long weekend.
Friday night Sarah and I were invited to a large Italian dinner at Ted and Mona's apartment. We have really, really enjoyed spending time with them and, along with some others, they have become our family away from home. It is a tradition in Ted's family to cook massive amounts of home-made Italian food for a giant Christmas Eve dinner, and I've got to say we had a great time! Sarah and I volunteered to help with the cooking, so we spent some time in the last week making homemade pasta and ravioli with them. We also arrived at 1:00 on Friday to help some more, and spent most of the day in the kitchen learning how to cook delicious traditional Italian food. It was a lot of fun! I did, however make the mistake of wearing a white shirt which was splattered with oil and marinara sauce by the end of the night. I was looking kind of rough... :)
Me stuffing the mushrooms
Ted working on the cod dish
Mona making cookies
Sarah taking pictures :)
Table for 15
I will share the menu with you, because it was very impressive and fun to make:
Bruschetta (Sarah and I made this and brought it over)
Baked cod with bell peppers, olives, and other veggies
Homemade Ravioli (we actually made and pressed the noodles)
Fresh baked cookies, rum balls, and biscotti
10 lbs. of homemade pasta (that never ended up being served)
There was a serious amount of food. After dinner, we had a fun gift exchange, and somehow a few of us ended up on the balcony with some scotch and cigars. Later, it turned into a youtube dance party, and we stayed out much too late! :) It was really a fun Christmas Eve away from home, shared by other orphans just like us.
Left to Right: Carl, Justin, Al, Yamille
Surgeon General's Warning: Don't Be This Guy
Grease Lighning! L-R: Buenas Aires, Elizabeth, Justin, Mona, Yamille
Christmas day, we woke up and had a nice relaxing morning of opening presents. Highlights for Me: fine scotch, GPS, tennis accessories, video games, clothes, and an album that Sarah made documenting our road trip USA. Sarah: commercial juicer, kitchen accessories, Julia Childs DVD & books and clothes. Our family was great and sent us gifts so that we had plenty to open on Christmas morning. Because of the shipping delay, I think the gifts will keep on coming for a couple of weeks too. :) A great way to keep up the Christmas cheer!
Charlie Brown tree stacked with gifts!
Suiting Abby up for the family Christmas picture
After relaxing and playing a sufficient amount of video games, we were invited to a Puerto Rican Christmas dinner at another couple's house, Mayra and Iris. The food was delicious! I'd never had Puerto Rican food before, but it was lots of rice, beans, a chicken dish, delicious beef, fried plantains, and potato salad. They also had a type of spiced egg nog that was delicious.
Our Hungry Brazil Family
A view from Mayra & Iris' balcony
Also, great news! One of the best Christmas gifts I got was from the embassy. I got a job!!! I'll be working as an Administrative Assistant in the Regional Security Office. The job requires a security clearance, so I'll start as soon as I get it. They estimated the middle of January if all goes well.
More GREAT news! Sarah just called, and apparently the last of our things are arriving tomorrow! The only thing we'll be waiting on then is our car, which is scheduled to arrive this week or next. Things are looking up!
I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas, and have a happy new year!
Thanks Abby, my eyeball was getting a little dry. :) Go Big Red!