Saturday, December 26, 2009

December 26, 2009: Our first Christmas in Cyprus

We had friends from Germany staying with us for the nine days before Christmas, which we enjoyed very much. Some more sightseeing around Cyprus, lots of games of Settlers of Catan, and they even babysat one evening so we could visit some other friends, taking only Helen with us. :-)

On the 24th we celebrated "German Christmas", as that's when Germans celebrate normally, and as Peter and Christin were leaving on the 25th in the wee hours. That meant we got to light the candles on the tree a day earlier than usual, as my husband won't let me light them until we open presents, and as he's married to a U.S.-ian who thinks it's silly to open presents after dinner and have hyper children who don't want to go to bed, we generally celebrate on the 25th. But the few "German presents" didn't take that long, and the children went to bed fairly happily, still anticipating Christmas morning. They weren't even that upset about saying goodbye to Peter and Christin, as we'll see them in Germany in February.

The rest of us then played two last games of Settlers of Catan, and at 1:15 I went to bed and Jörn took Peter and Christin to the airport. When he got back 20 minutes later, I asked if everything was fine, and he said, "Yes, it was quieter than usual--apparently, not many people want to fly on the 25th."

We didn't get woken until almost 7:30, and bought ourselves a little more time in bed (but with several children bouncing on us, so not sleeping) by sending Marie to make the birthday cake. Once that was in the oven, we all got up and lit the candles on the tree again.

Rather than the free-for-all I grew up with, we all take turns taking a gift from under the tree and handing it to the right person. I imagine that "normal" children would choose something that they think is for themselves, but this is one of the times that I'm glad my children aren't normal. :-) I myself am not at all into gift-giving and would rather do away with it all together, but the children have apparently all inherited their father's main love-language and delight in giving gifts. Katie started, and chose the gift that she had made at preschool (where, two days a week, I work and she attends) for us. Then Lukas excitedly chose a gift from himself to one of his siblings, and on it went. The children were always pleasantly surprised and grateful for what they received, but were over-the-moon hyper with excitement about what they gave.

Around 10:00 the phone rang--it was Peter. Last week the airport in Frankfurt (which was where they were flying) had been closed because of snow, forcing 3000 people to spend the night there, so I said, "So you made it! Good!" Peter said, "No, actually we liked Cyprus so much that we decided to stay--we're in Ayia Napa!" I laughed and said that I know that I'm gullible and tend to believe whatever people tell me, but I wasn't falling for it this time. I could hear Christin laughing hysterically in the background, and it took awhile, but they finally convinced me that they were, indeed, in a hotel in Ayia Napa. The runway lights weren't working, so everyone had been taken by bus to a hotel in Ayia Napa, where they had gotten to bed around 3:30 and had just finished a big breakfast! They said that the hotel was nice and the food was good, but it was awful being surrounded by so many "fat tourists" and the "scenery" basically consisted of one hotel after another. They were very glad to have seen a bit more of the "real" Cyprus with us that most tourists ever do. They were going to be taken back to the airport at 11:30, and with a direct flight to Frankfurt, I imagine that they did eventually arrive.

I did find an article on-line about the airport closure, but wasn't able to confirm if they now have the runway lights fixed. I selfishly certainly hope so, as we're flying at 3:00 a.m. in two days!! We have a six-hour lay-over in Frankfurt (after changing planes in Prague), so there's a little bit of lee-way, but as our flights are not connecting (we booked separate tickets from here to Frankfurt and back, and from Frankfurt to San Francisco and back, which was considerably less expensive that booking all the way from Cyprus to San Francisco), I'm not sure what would happen if we were to miss the other flight--and I don't particularly want to find out, either. We were concerned about weather in Prague and Frankfurt, but it never occurred to us to wonder if Larnaca Airport would be open!!!

Anyway, we eventually finished opening our gifts, some people sort of had breakfast (they'd already been eating gummy bears and chocolate and such all morning--nobody even wanted any of the chocolate birthday cake...), and around noon we headed for the home of Sue and Richard, as we'd been invited to Christmas dinner and afternoon/evening with them.

Christmas dinner was scrumptious (tender, HOT turkey--not something I'm used to!) and the company was even better. The children behaved fairly decently, for the most part. I love visiting people, but sometimes find my own children's behavior to be so stressful for me (even when it's not even bothering our hosts) that I can't always relax as much as I'd like to. After dinner, chatting, and dessert (half a dozen different delicious things, for which we didn't have room, but didn't let that stop us!!), we drugged some of the children with a movie, and the adults (five of us, as Sue and Richard's son Tim was also there, visiting from England) and Jacob played Settlers of Catan with the Seafarers extention, which they had received for Christmas. I'm rather "Settler-ed out" (and I know we'll have three more weeks of it in the U.S...), but as always, the best part is the people. :-)

We lazed around comfortably for quite awhile, nibbling and chatting, then had a concert by Tim (piano) and Marie (violin), and around 8:30, as some of the children were starting to lose it, decided we'd better leave before things escalated.

Children to bed, and we weren't long in following--and didn't get woken up for good this morning until nearly 9:00!! (The previous post is about this morning...) Today we have about 18 YWAM people coming at 2:00 for lunch and singing (oh yeah--I'm supposed to be looking for the words to a few songs in various languages...) and exchanging "white elephant" or "monster" gifts. I'm trying desparately to get clothes washed and dried (and it started raining about half an hour ago...I might actually put the drying rack in my bedroom and turn on the heating, as I'm running out of other options) for packing tomorrow afternoon/evening, and then we're off. And after those next six weeks (three in the U.S., which will include a wedding, two anniversaries, three days at Disneyland, three birthdays, and maybe even some time with friends, and then three in Germany, for which we already have over 30 different meetings with people planned...), we are REALLY going to need a vacation...

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