Tuesday, January 13, 2009

We didn't have to dream of it...

It was a seriously white Christmas, as in white out, super-duper blizzard, with wind gusts up to 50 mph for a span of days around and including Christmas. The only window of relative calm was Christmas Eve morning when, thankfully, my mom was able to fly in from Bethel -- where she had only be stuck 24 hours, sheesh. So, with my mom safely here, our holidays were fabulous, and I wanted to share pictures and stories....Esther wearing a beaver hat, a 'Palaggai."
Iris happy about going out visiting with daddy -- cute!

Christmas just gets more and more fun with Esther being so so into the mythology of Christmas and Christmas traditions, and we had Esther's cousins visit to make crafts and cookies and such. Here we are a couple days before Christmas rolling out sugar cookies:
Even though we don't have a tree -- obviously real ones are not possible, and I hate artificial ones -- I'd rather have no tree than a fake one -- we do it up nicely, anyhow, yes? I've made our decorations with at Star theme rather than a tree theme:
Iris was actually pretty into the present-opening process, and big sister was loving helping!
Fancy Nancy doll: Who knew? So perfect for my little fancy girl:
Looking tenderly at her first ballerina music box, which plays Swan Lake:
Esther's Hello Kitty Stereo from Santa:
Iris showing off her First Christmas duds, with Dad giving a kiss to the top of her head
The girls basking in the after-Christmas glow (as in, enjoying the lights right before I take them down:)--

The evenings after Christmas, the village had a great activity in the school commons: Christmas Games. I had never been to this event before, and did not know what to expect, kind of thinking it would be a basketball tournament. But it was just a bunch of games like relays and such, divided by age group. The winning teams would get small prizes, like little plastic toys, balloons, crayons, -- often, though, the game coordinator would say "All winners!" and all the kids would rush over to the area where there were just boxes & boxes of prizes.
Being my first time at the games, I thought that they would just be for the children. The game coordinator would call out for different age groups to come into the center of the commons to play a game, like Tug-of-War for kids Esther's age, below.
She was pretty confused as what to do -- she'd never played Tug of War before. Too bad, though, because being the tallest one in the group she could've kicked butt! :)
After watching a bunch of kids' games, then, I was pretty surprised when the game coordinator called out, "Men and Women!" and all kinds of adults rushed into the center of the game area. Of course I'm game for anything like that, so I joined in. We formed two lines, mixed gender, and were all given toothpicks to hold in our mouths, and the object of the game was to pass a fruitloop all the way down the line, toothpick to toothpick. The last person in the line had to run up to the front, holding the fruitloop on the toothpick, the toothpick in his or her mouth, and start the fruitloop down the line again, until everyone in the line was in the orginal order again. Funny!:It was totally hilarious, and although I couldn't keep from laughing and accidentally blowing the fruitloop off my toothpick the first time with my breath, some folks were ALL business(as you can see from these photos -- I got permission from everybody, by the way, to post these), and everyone was having a great time, participants and observers.It seemed to me like a game that was fun and funny because it was as close to kissing as you could get without really kissing! In fact, the next game, which I didn't get pictures of because it was too fast moving, was a relay in which you had to hold a playing card in between your nose and upper lip, flipping your upper lip totally up and inside out, passing the card to the next person in line who would hold it the same way. I couldn't figure out how to hold it at first, because I didn't realize how completely I had to flip my upper lip up, and some of my teammates teased me, looking at Tuluk (who wouldn't play, just wanted to hold Iris and watch) and saying, "Well, don't you know how to kiss?" in a teasing tone. I think the game itself was even called "Eskimo Kiss."

Here I am trying my best!The whole games experience was one of my favorite community activities because everyone was so involved, even the observers were active observers, and there was just such a great feeling about the whole thing. Hearing people talk about these mouth-to-mouth games, I realized they were old favorites -- people totally knew what they were in for when they lined up, and were into it! Everything I love about living in this community was embodied in these games, the joking, teasing fun is the best thing about Yup'ik culture. And when I closed my eyes to the artificial lights and the western architechture, I could imagine playing these games eons ago, in the dim light of sod house....
AND we were "All winners!" I loved the prizes, too, very utilitarian: Rit stain-whitener powder, bobby socks, dental floss, washcloths and plastic tupperware....:)

We packed up and traveled to Anchorage for New Year's, for a vacation and to take care of medical appointments (a reality of life here where there are few options for medical care, that we have to schedule our appointments for school breaks), and it was a good thing that we took the girls to a pediatrician, because they both developed croup over the vacation and soon after.:(
When I had bought the tickets, I had cringed at how expensive they were this time, thinking it was because of the holidays. Well, for some reason they were expensive because all that was left was first class tickets! So here is a picture of mom and Esther living it up in First Class on Alaska airlines -- our first time! Too bad it's only an hour flight from Bethel to Anchorage.
My mom and Esther posing by (and in!) the 5th avenue ice sculptures:

You know you're in Anchorage when:you see tacky things that are supposed to remind you that you're on the last, great frontier all over the place -- like this enormous bear in JCPENNY'S at the downtown mall.
We actually made it to Anchorage & back without travel woes! Amazing and wonderful.
Here are just some cute pictures of the girls:
Esther said she was missing camp, so she made a tent out of a big box...
She's stocked it with all kinds of provisions--including a place for her sparkly shoes!

Esther in her cute rabbit mask and Iris in her bumbo seat --
Iris wants the big bunny!

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