Thursday, December 9, 2010

Wonderful Christmas Surprises!

With December upon us, there is definitely a Christmas vibe in the air.  Well, at least for me there is! My itunes is always set on my Christmas playlist...I'm even starting to drive Cici crazy with all of my humming of my favorite ones. The girls and I decided to ring in the Christmas season on December 1st by watching a favorite Christmas movie of mine, Love Actually and drinking hot chocolate.  It was absolutely lovely and a bit of a taste of home. This past weekend was the first weekend where it felt incredibly strange to not be back at good 'ol Luther College, singing in the annual Christmas at Luther show.  

In order to distract myself from the fact that I was wanting to be 'there' and not 'here,' the girls and I took off for a quick trip to Batumi to bid some friends 'adieu.' We had quite the interesting marshutka rides there and back... On our way to Batumi, our crazy driver was going a bit too fast and he ran into another car, completely totaling it.  It was a bit scary and quite dramatic, but thankfully, no one was hurt.  Luckily, we were herded onto another marshutka and then only had to pay 1.50 Lari for our entire trip from Samtredia to Batumi! After a lovely visit full of delicious food, wine and good company, we said good-bye to many friends that will not be returning after Christmas.  It was so sad to leave Katy, my good friend from Orientation, but thank goodness for Skype! As we boarded the marshutka to head back to Samtredia, about half way through the trip, a huge family got on, including a guy carrying a branch full of mandarins, (which he begged us to eat) and a little boy who later ended up getting sick and throwing up berries all over the marshutka floor (just barely missing Tara).  After that happened, Melissa, Michelle, Tara and I just looked at each other and had to laugh because of the craziness that was our marshutka rides.  Did we bring this on ourselves??? Who knows.  
Beautiful sunset over Samtredia when we got back from Batumi

Then on Tuesday, Melissa asked me to go for a walk with her in the afternoon.  We had a lovely walk and made plans to make peanut butter with the girls at my house later that evening.  When we arrived back at my house, I walked into my room and discovered the most wonderful surprise! Michelle, Tara and Nini popped out from behind my room and yelled 'SURPRISE!' As I looked around the room, everything registered.  They had decorated my entire room with Christmas decorations! Cut out trees, snowflakes, paper chains (made out of scrapes of Michelle's classroom activities) cut out presents, real Christmas lights and Christmas chocolates from the states (including red and green m&ms)! Tara had brought several of these items back with her after her sister's wedding and had been keeping it a surprise all this time! It was the happiest surprise I could have had and was so sweet of them to think of! We spent the rest of the evening chatting, eating waaaay too many m&ms - the red and green ones really do taste better - and listening to Christmas music.  
REAL Christmas Lights!!! All thanks to Tara!

I have my own Christmas tree!
Because Georgians don't celebrate Christmas until January 7, it's still a bit early for Christmas to be in full swing here though.  We are excited to head to Tbilisi next weekend and see all the city decorations before our flight to Israel though! Samtredia, being the small town that it is, doesn't really get into the whole 'decorating your town for Christmas thing.' Which is fine because I have lots of Christmas in my room! While this time is hard being away from home, it's been fun chatting with Cici and her family about their Christmas traditions and how they compare to our traditions.  While I'm sad to not be able to celebrate Christmas with her family, or my own family in America, I'm truly looking forward to spending Christmas with the girls in Bethlehem.  If you asked me last Christmas if I thought I'd be in Bethlehem next Christmas, I would have told you that you were crazy.  It's insane how life takes you in directions that you never would have expected! 

I hope you are all enjoying a wonderful Christmas season, wherever you might be!