Saturday, December 27, 2014

A Cairns Christmas

I survived my first Christmas away from home!  I got a surprise message from Stefan (volleyball friend) Wednesday evening asking what time my church service (for Christmas Eve) was and he ended up being able to join me.  It was definitely orchestrated by God because so many little things happened that night, outside of my usual routine.  For starters I was a bit later than usual in leaving for volleyball, and about a block from my place I realized that since it was Christmas Eve there might not be anyone there.  I decided I'd better put on tennis shoes and if no one was there I could at least go for a run.  Since I was going to be running I almost left my phone behind, and after debating for a few seconds decided to just take it anyway.  When I got to volleyball there weren't many people, there were exactly 12 people playing, so the court was full.  I decided I'd continue my run a bit further up the esplanade and when I got back there would hopefully be some more people.  On my way back my phone buzzed with the message from Stefan.  On a normal night I'd have already been at volleyball for nearly an hour with my phone sitting on the bench, not to be checked until maybe 9pm, and he'd have been unable to get approval from his manager to be late for work.  The courts got a bit busier as the night wore on and everyone was in a good mood, which always makes for a more enjoyable evening.  Rith and I ended up leaving at the same time so we walk most of the way back together.  I had just enough time to shower and get ready for church before I had to leave again.  I wanted to be early so Stefan wouldn't be by himself when he first arrived.  Our paths ended up crossing on our way there. It was nice to have someone to sit with during the service and of course to walk most of the way home with at midnight.  I'm not sure what he thought about the service, he did say though that he didn't know many of the Christmas Carol's we sang.  He's German, so I guess I shouldn't have been so surprised.  I just thought he'd know them in German, but he didn't recognize most of them at all.

Some might consider it a sad Christmas: no family, no Christmas dinner, no tree, no presents.  I worked most of the day too, but in the end it didn't really matter.  It didn't feel like Christmas anyway (possibly due to the lack of the aforementioned things and the balmy weather).  I was lucky enough to get picked up Christmas morning at BHA (it saved me a half hour walk in 90+ degree heat dressed head to toe in black) and three of us drove up to Paradise Palms Country Club to help with their Christmas Lunch.  The place was packed, but our events room thankfully only had 13 tables; three of which were mine.  It was easy work though since it was a buffet, we only had to serve drinks and clear dirty dishes.  I didn't spill or break anything so that was an added bonus as well.  The manager and regular staff were extremely kind and we were done by 3:30pm.  I had to walk the half hour back from the temp agency office, but at least I could shower and change when I arrived home.  I opened my final Christmas cards and they were all so sweet.  My Aunt Sharon's was so lovely it nearly brought tears to my eyes, and my little crickett had a lovely note as well since he'd just spent his first Christmas away from home last year, so he knows what it is like.  It's always nice to know you're loved and that your presence is missed.  After a short nap I headed to volleyball to meet up with my volleyball friends; Jordan, Max, Caterina, & Louis were all there playing already, and Stefan came soon afterwards.  It was actually busier Christmas night than it had been on Christmas Eve.  I got lots of hugs and Christmas wished from everyone. Arthur was wearing a Santa hat (despite the heat) and it had a bell on the end so every time he jumped it jingled, so it did feel a bit more like Christmas when you put all those things together.  Jason has started calling me Abiama, which I learned from Lithia is used with anyone that is older (which I'm not), or has a close relationship with you. Your either calling them mum or aunty, or stating that you have a close relationship - that you are basically like family, like an aunty to the person.  They shorten names and add ama (meaning mum or aunty) on the back of the shortened name as a nick name. Anyway, on my walk home from volleyball I called my little brother and we chatted for a bit - I knew he'd be up early Christmas morning.  Sadly my Mom was sick so I didn't get to talk with her, but I did get to say a quick hello to my Dad and older brother before I had to go.

On Boxing Day I was able to skype with nearly everyone from my Dad's side of the family as they were all celebrating together at night (meaning it was my morning).  When my cousin Aprille answered the skype call on her phone (isn't technology wonderful?), I could heard everyone gabbing away in the background and I loved it.  The video was in and out, in terms of visibility, so sometimes I was waving at family members but wasn't 100% certain who they were because it was too pixel-y.  Thankfully it was clear more than not, so I got to chat and see almost everyone.  Due to so many people in one room it was often hard for them to hear me, but it didn't matter.  My favorite questions (gotta love family) were if I was bringing home a man, does the water in the toilet really swirl in the opposite direction, and why I didn't have an Australian accent yet.  While I'm not ready to leave Cairns, it will be wonderful to see and hug everyone again.  When I stopped into reception to use the internet Jay handed me two more Christmas cards and commented that he hasn't received a single card this year and he lives here!  I got a lovely card and note from my Gram and a card from my Aunt Rosie as well.  I'd gone to reception to work on my travel plans, but didn't get much accomplished because Jay and I ended up chatting for most of the afternoon: Christmas, learning English, reading and newspapers, visas and sponsorships, lots of topics.  With my impending departure that visa/sponsor topic seems to come up a lot (I'd been talking with the girl who runs the travel agency/internet cafe where I skype from about visas and sponsorships as well since she's American too).  Who knows what the next few months will hold, especially once I get home....  

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