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A Tropical Christmas

A sunset over rice fields in the middle of nowhere.

The days leading up to Christmas were filled with anticipation and excitement, as well it should be in a house with 4 and 5 year old believers. How would Santa find us? But the villa doesn’t have a chimney! What if the reindeer land in the pool? We had equipped ourselves with multiple advent calendars on the iPads, force-feeding a daily dose of holiday classical music but also allowing for a daily game and virtual gift unwrapping to set the mood. Staffan baked 3 kinds of Christmas cookies with the kids, none of which fared well in the humidity, but we figured Santa wouldn’t mind. We looked up lyrics to Christmas songs and were flabbergasted by Alexis’ inability to carry a tune even in these most familiar songs, but she sang with heart, overcompensating for the lack of snow.

We did a rare Facebook post of our favorite conversation from the lead up to Christmas:

Eilir to Phineas: Did you hear that Frosty was a smoker?

Phineas: Yeah. It’s no wonder he melted.

A couple of boxes filled with shells and food.

Phineas and Eilir carefully decorating their tree

On Christmas eve we set up NORAD to track Santa as he departed from the North Pole and ventured into Siberia. Soon he headed down through Australia and was heading for Bali: at this point the kids panicked and rushed themselves to bed. They awoke to find that Santa had come, leaving a small trove of presents under the tree. They each got snorkels to go with their masks, some books, a lego set (which they both exclaimed were in fact really for us), and chocolates. Phineas was beyond thrilled to receive two transformers he had long been eyeing: deceptacons!  Throughout the day he kept asking to be pinched, saying, I cannot believe I got Shockwave and Vehicon! Can it be real? Eilir’s singular wish on her letter to Santa was for a real rocket ship that she could captain to outer space.  She wants to visit Mars and Saturn, and then swing over to Pluto, looking for aliens along the way. Santa wrote her a letter explaining that it takes a really long time to build a rocket ship, and that now that Christmas rush was over, he would set the elves to work on it in time for next year.  Next year we’ll address her letter to Sir Richard Branson. She did receive a science project rocket that we launched at sunset down at the beach.

A couple of boxes filled with shells and food.

Lounging by the pool on Christmas Day

The day itself was marvelous. We got a break from the rains that had poured down on us the previous 3 days and that were forecasted straight through our remaining days on Bali. It was sunny and clear. We lounged by the pool, held olympic style swim races, and sauntered down to the beach to watch the sun set. Both Phineas and Eilir loved the rocket launch, although, believe it or not, we had a minor O-ring issue at the start. You can see the pure joy erupting from Eilir in the shot below.  This, as well as Phineas’ reaction to the deceptacons, made the day.

A couple of boxes filled with shells and food.

Eilir erupting with joy at her rocket launch

Our walk back to the villa was gorgeous: the reflection of the pink sunset setting the rice paddies ablaze. Staffan and I had his sole Christmas gift, a bottle of wine, with his home-cooked and delicious Christmas dinner.  We slept that night feeling content that we were able to keep the magic of Christmas alive for the kids even in this distant land, so far from home.