Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Manuia le Kerisimasi!

Christmas Day began with my routine 5:20 am bathroom run in the middle of my sleep (I know you all wanted to know that). Once awake, I realized I hadn't put the presents under the tree. So, without further adieu, ta da!!!!

Not much to shake a stick at, I know. But we don't ask for much; we're pretty content people. Now that I think of it, I don't know what possesses people (like me) to post pictures of their presents! Am I trying to brag or something? People in the states would look at this picture and say, "pft... brag?" In Samoa, we have to hide our presents in the house so they aren't stolen in the rash of recent break-ins in our village (makes me feel like an evil Nephite, trying to hold on to my valuables just in case they happen to disappear). We live in what is basically "Palagi-ville" (White-ville), and my meager law clerk salary is equivalent to a six-figure salary when compared to the average pay of Samoans. Heck, even though it's not a breeze financially for us here, we're considered wealthy by most islanders.

On Christmas Eve we were privileged to be able to bring Christmas packages to a family of destitute children. They lived in the back-roads of American Samoa, in an area where the Tongan community--relegated to second or third-class citizens--make their abode. Even for American Samoa, this was the ghetto.

After giving the presents, I couldn't help but think, "why?" Why are some treated differently than others? Why can't we work together as a community to lift those in need? I know that may be asking a lot from Samoans who are themselves struggling to get by, but everyone can play a part. My trifle gift seemed like nothing compared to their hunger. But I guess it was nice to see their smiling faces.

So on Christmas Day, I was happy that we were content with what we were given. I didn't hear any complaints from any of us. I actually think that our experiences on Christmas Eve contributed to our contentment and joy on Christmas Day. We were all smiles.

My apologies to those of you who didn't get your gift in a picture with a smile. I was trying to conserve battery space so Jaydn could play his new toy game. But you have nothing to worry about. Every toy received a smile.

After presents were unwrapped, I remembered that we still had a skink (a huge lizard) with its hind legs and tail stuck in one of our sticky-traps that are meant for mice. We found him there the night before, right after I killed two huge cockroaches. Poor guy, he didn't mean to get in the trap. He was still alive in the morning, and I had to do something. I quickly picked up the sticky-trap and dropped it in a plastic bag while the skink was wriggling like mad. I felt really bad, because he was still alive, but felt I had no other choice than to put him out of the house in this fashion. It was this incident that made me realize the inhumanity of sticky-traps--and make me glad there are not human-sized ones.

In the afternoon, we went to a Christmas dinner at the Roth's home. Jay and Carol are good friends, and we had other friends over as well. Everyone (well, mostly the women) made really good American and Samoan food.

Front and center in the lounge chair is Jay Roth, to his left is Carol Roth, then Jessi, to Jessi's right is Steve Nash (not the basketball player), then Mark Hales, and at 3 o'clock is Paul Brown.

In this picture is (starting from top and going clockwise): Fua Nash, Jessi, and Carol Roth (with young Nathan Roth clinging to her side).

We are fast becoming gamers--our family will drop everything to play a good game. Here Jessi and I are playing one of our favorite new games, Nerts. If you think that only "nerds" play "nerts," you're probably right.

The other pastime that everyone on the island enjoys when you're not at the beach and it's too hot to do anything else, is watching a good movie. One that will entertain old and young alike. A movie like "Cars" will do.

As the day drew to a close, and everyone was pooped from the activities (which included, of course, a haunted house put together by Jaydn, Trey Roth, and Sevila Nash--they are our "haunted" house specialists), we received a command Samoan dance performance by the youngest of all of us--Tia Nash, 10 months old. She has become so accustomed to watching her mother dance Samoan dances, that if Fua sings a Samoan dance song Tia will move her body and hands just like she's doing a Samoan dance. It was adorable!

So, for not being with family, this was a pretty good Christmas after all. We can handle the sweat, bugs, lizards, etc. when we have friends here that we enjoy spending time with. Christmas 2006 was indeed one to remember.