Sat in sadness for a bit until there was a knock at the door - it was Nick in a Santa hat, telling me he was making bacon & egg sandwiches for everyone! Mmm. Just to further confuse my brain, I ate it outside in the sunshine, in my Santa hat, drinking coffee from a mug with the Easter bunny on it. :)
Nick had to distribute some Christmas cards & chocolate, and Ian, Nicko & I needed to go to the grocery store so we bummed a ride. In exchange, we had to put on the hostels t-shirts, Christmas hats, and sunglasses - we were the holiday brigade. At each stop, we had to run into the office we were giving the card to, sing "we wish you a merry Christmas, we wish you a merry Christmas, we wish you a merry Christmas from Backpackers By the Bay!" then give the gift & run ("go go go!!") back to the van, jump in, and speed off. At one point, Ian actually jumped in the van through the window! I was giggling the entire time.
After our secret mission was done, we zoomed over to the store & I got ingredients for peirogies. As most of you know, peirogies are a traditional
Polish food (I have Polish heritage) and I have eaten them every single Christmas eve of my life. Just because they don't exist in Australia doesn't mean I have to break the tradition. For the first time ever, I'm going to make them from scratch. Well, the filling at least; I am trying wonton wrappers for the dough.
Back to the hostel & I grabbed my ipod & went straight to the kitchen. Mixed the filling, sauted the onions, stuffed & pinched the dough, pan fried them in butter. If I do say so myself, they were just as good as Millie's - Gammie & Bopche would be proud.
Put out a plate of peirogies with bowls of sour cream and buttery onions & it was SWARMED by the hostel. You know you did good when people come back for seconds... and thirds... and fourths... And fifths... :) Ian swears he ate half of them. They were a huge hit & one bite made me feel like, ok, now it really is Christmas.
Cooking them really did make me feel homesick though. Thinking of family & friends far away, it was tough to hold back the tears. But Nick came over & gave me a big bear hug and everyones complements about the peirogies and just general friendship made me feel really loved.
As I was cooking, Laura & the boys were cutting up a Santa suit & making costumes for themselves. Nicko was dirty Santa, Daan was gay Santa, Taco was an elf & Ian was Rudolph. (Laura is pictured in her chrissy creation) Hilarious.
The people here are amazing. Totally nonjudgemental & just so loving & accepting. Everyone is so different & yet interested in learning about everyone else.
Laura & I caught a ride into town with Nick - a few times a day, the van goes to the bus station to pick people up. To Nick's great annoyance, we say in the van making fart noises, animal noises, making up songs. I don't know what came over us, I hadn't even been drinking & we probably scared people away, but it sure as hell was fun.
Got back, jumped in the pool for a bit & then into the shower; as uncomfortable as it may sound, Nicks parents had invited me for dinner & I wanted to look at least halfway decent. A few weeks ago, I'd bought a dress for Christmas, a little white strappy knee-length with a waistband bow - my roommates & I always dress up for holidays (and Sundays & Tuesdays & anydays... ;) ). Since I knew Christmas day would be a BBQ by the pool, I thought this'd be my only chance to wear it, but I was torn bc I thought I'd probably be overdressed. I tried it on for Nikki & she insisted I wear it. Ian, who just happened to be at reception when I rocked up, said, with slack jaw, "you look really lovely." So I wore it.
Nick came by to pick me up from my room wearing jorts (yes ladies, infamous jorts) and a tee, and I said, oh crap, I'm overdressed. He said no, he'd be showering & changing at the house, and I looked really lovely. (actually I think "stunning" was the word he used, but who's keeping track...). So we went up to the house & his mom was in a tee & shorts & I thought, oh crap, I'm overdressed. But hid my embarrassment & said my hellos & thank yous & accepted a glass of wine (white, so as not to stain the dress), & had actually a very nice conversation with his parents as Nick did, indeed, shower and dress, showing everyone up as he appeared back downstairs in a shirt & tie. Well, I'll be, guess I'm not so overdressed after all.
Very very nice dinner. His two grandmothers were visiting; one of them is hard of hearing & not fully with us, and the other just wants to tell stories & was grateful to me as a captive audience. Apparently, Nicks parents were signaling "save her! Occupy Gram!" but I really didn't mind. Her stories were interesting & she seemed so happy telling them; it must be tough having things to say & no one to say them to.
The food was delicious, his parents cracked me up again. He gets really embarrassed by them but I think they're so full of life & funny - true, they don't have much censor but it makes things interesting.
We watched a Christmas special on TV & they took pictures of Nick & I in front of the Christmas tree (which isn't an evergreen, its a sprawling houseplant with baubles & lights) while his mom acted as makeup lady, dabbing our faces with a napkin bc we were "shiny." I'm laughing in every shot.
After, we retreated down to the hostel party & Nick & I had a major miscommunication. He gets really chuffed about his family & apparently most people that meet them think they're insane (they are, but in a good way), and he expected me to run screaming. But since I actually quite enjoyed myself, we had to talk through that discrepancy. It all ended well & overall, despite being far from home, it was a good Christmas Eve.
Today I'm so happy & grateful for:
~ an adoptive "family"
~ making peirogies