Christmas was filled with laughter, love and lots of sweets this year! I spent Christmas Eve and Christmas Day with eight other PCVs in Lezhe, a town about an hour north of Tirana. Our plans included a big Christmas Eve dinner, games, mulled wine, and the promise of a blazing fire.
Courtesy of Laura HammettChristmas Eve was one of the best days I have had in Albania. The morning and early afternoon was occupied by a football game, which was tons of fun and included a good amount of humorous trash talking. After the big game we all went out for an apres-game celebratory beer and lunch. Traditional Albanian food for lunch alongside Albanian brewed beer. I couldn't have asked for a better afternoon.
The rest of the day was spent playing cards, preparing dinner, and finishing up gifts. Eggnog was made by Laura and served during our many rounds of cards. Prior to Christmas Eve, I had never tasted eggnog before. I enjoyed it, but it was super sweet. Once glass was enough for me. Card players switched in and out as different aspects of Christmas dinner were being prepared. For the main course there was a marinated beef loin, which was absolutely delicious! Along with the beef there was a Canadian dish made by John and Adam that consisted of fried potatoes served under thick gravy and bacon. There was also a salad to balance out all the heavy food items. The meal took quite a while to prepare and cook so while we were waiting, we played a game by the name of Chardee MacDennis.
Chardee MacDennis is a game that was first introduced to us by the television show It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia. The game consists of 3 rounds, trivia/puzzles, physical challenge, and mental stamina, and is played in teams. Because there was an equal number of PCVs from the Northern, Central, and Southern areas of Albania, that was how we broke up into teams. Obviously I was on Team South. The trivia questions were challenging, yet answerable, the physical challenges were rediculous, painful, and accomplishable, and the mental stamina exercises were just down right self-confidence breaking. The game was a success! The trivia card that gave everyone a difficult time was the one that stated: "Name all of Santa's reindeer and his wife". Of course everyone knew Mrs. Claus, but the number of reindeer completely stumped the answering team. Does he have 8 or 9 reindeer?
Courtesy of Kim Lancaster
Now, as children we were all read the poem The Night Before Christmas and at some point in our lives we were able to perfectly recite it. However, as we have gotten older only remnients from the poem can be remembered. For me, I can recall the beginning of the poem, but once the stockings are hung and the hope of St. Nick will soon be there comes along, it's pretty much down hill from there. I know there is the part, "sugarplum fairs danced in their head" and "on dasher, on donner, on comet and cupid". But are those the actual words and in the right order? I can not tell you for sure. Plus when I try to recite the reindeer portion in the poem I end up repeating the same reindeer names.
Luckily, I grew up with a set of Santa's Reindeer ornaments that decorated our family Christmas tree every year, so I can name all the reindeer. (A huge source of pride. How many other things can a brag about with this group of PCVs?) However, my team was not asked the question, it was a trivia question for the Central team. Long story short. They couldn't name them all and they ended up making up one of the names. A huge debate began about the name of that last reindeer. Many of the PCVs tried to recite the poem, but failing, while others were positive they knew the name of the last reindeer.
The food, company, and activities that accompanied the Christmas holiday this year was wonderful. Everyone seemed to have a good time and we definitely ate, drank, and were merry. I leave you with a poem until the next holiday season.
The Night Before Christmas
Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there.
The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads.
And mamma in her 'kerchief, and I in my cap,
Had just settled down for a long winter's nap.
When out on the lawn arouse such a clatter,
I spring from the bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.
The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow
Gave the lustre of mid-day to objects below.
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a minaiture sleigh, and eight tinny reindeer.
While a little old drive, so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment it must be St. Nick.
More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name.
"Now Dasher! now, Dancer! now Prancer and Vixen
On, Comet! On, Cupid! On, Donner and Blitzen!
To the top of the porch! To the top of the wall!
Now dash away! Dash away! Dash away all!
He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.
But I heard him exclaim, 'ere he drove out of sight,
"Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night!"