This was not my first Christmas away from the family- that was was in Airlie Beach 2009 (Francisca came to join me, arriving in the afternoon).
Here in Chile, as in Europe, the big event is Christmas Eve. In the past apparently it's been a big rush as everyone comes to visit here (their Mum's house), and then runs off to the inlaws afterwards. So in a much more sensible move, they went to their inlaws for the Christmas dinner, then the Christmas Day lunch was on here.
As we were all without a place to go for Christmas Eve, Tia Amelia invited us around. She lives just two blocks away and had a bunch of her family around. Before going over there we got in a Skype session with my family back home, Grandma and Grandpa were visiting too so it was nice to speak to them.
In my younger years, Grandpa used to go an steal grapefruits from where the priests lived. Occasionally he would get me to tag along to help him, much to Mum and Grandma's disgust. I asked him if he had gone to collect any, but he said he's grapefruit days were long gone. Apparently he was out in the surf in just his speedos, while everyone else was wearing wetsuits. It was good to hear he was back out in the action- a hip replacement and a knee injury due resulting from the operation have slowed him down a lot in the last years.
So anyway- Christmas Eve. After getting in the spirit by watching the Festivus episode of Seinfeld, we headed over just a couple of blocks away and were joined by a few more cousins- including Mateo, he must be one or two- he was the star of the show with his dancing at our Chilean wedding.
So Mateo and his brother Pedro were the only kids at the party at the time of present opening. Tio Manuel took them outside to see if Santa had come, but it seemed they couldn't find him. When they got back, it seemed he had made a deposit! Pedro got one of the most sought after gifts by Chilean boys-
An Alexis Sanchez Barcelona Jersey.
Of course their eyes lit up. They got some great presents. One of the older relatives got an iPad for their gift, but little Mateo also got the kids version- an etch a sketch.
Of course, being Christmas, and also being Chile, there was an enormous feast. I talked quite a lot with everybody, as many of them I had only met at the wedding for a few brief moments. They were interested in what I was up to with the internship and wanted to know some more about footbag.
There was of course the obligatory question "qual es tu equipo". When I arrived I said if La U won the Copa Sudamericana, then I would go for them. They did that without losing a game, so now I would say they are "my team". It's very different to just start supporting a team though, compared to my ongoing support of the Raiders (now more than 20 years). It's also very different to see that team win...
So they were happy with the news and said "welcome to the family". Although I have widely read Colo Colo are the most popular team, they have been not all that great this year, and I think plenty of people have jumped on the bandwagon to La U.
We got a good gift for another uncle, Tio Hernan, Francisca got the signature of Eduardo Vargas at the Golden Boot ceremony, so we are going to turn that into a Christmas card.
So the feast was turkey, lots of salads, and of course, hefty amounts of dessert. Chileans sure love their dessert. It really is amazing you don't see more incredibly overweight people walking the streets of Santiago.
One other thing my dining companions didn't get was the fascination of Australian's with cricket. More on that one later.
At the end of the night they wanted to see some footbag- and as I always carry my footbag with me, I was happy to oblige. Even though I had eaten a lot and drank a few beers, I put a few good runs together and they were all pretty impressed with that.
It was good to only have a couple of blocks to go home, and then to sleep in as we were the hosts the next day, so we were already there.
So earlier today we had the whole family gathered here, and once again more turkey, more tres leches, more of everything. Vino con frutilla (wine with strawberries in it) and more. After lunch we went outside with the kids to try out some of the new gifts. I got a pelota de rugby which I am quite excited about having. I hope a dog doesn't steal it like my previous soccerball.
After all the eating, and then some physical exertion, I was pretty tired. The beauty of living where the party is happening, is that you can retire early. I lay down on the bed for a short rest, and soon enough it was many hours later.
After wandering around the house like a zombie for a while, I came good when I realised I would still be able to get in a footbag session and swim at the pool. I had a pretty good session, finishing with a cool combo of vortex>spinning osis and my final trick of stepping ducking osis. As per usual, it felt really good to take a big running jump and splash into the pool.
Francisca went to meet a friend of hers and I stayed around at home. I surfed through some movies on the TV and have been keeping an eye on the cricket on the Cricinfo website. People often ask how can people like cricket, when it goes for so long- a test match goes for 5 days.
Admittedly I have gone off cricket in the last years, but the beauty of the Australian summer tests, are that they are omnipresent. You don't have to tune in to every ball of every match. It can be on in the car when you're driving to the beach, or like me at the moment, you can see what's happening directly on your screen.
Of course some people just use it as an excuse to get incredibly pissed, but that's another beauty of the game. It goes for a really long time, so you can drink a lot of beer throughout the duration.
So it's well past midnight now, not so long after lunch in the Boxing Day Test. The other beauty of the cricket is that on day 3, you can take a quick look at the scorecard and know pretty well what's been happening.
From Santiago, even just looking at the scores, it's a nice reminder of "back home".