Post 39 – . . . ma le Tausaga Fou!

The driftwood Christmas tree.Christmas Eve day temps were in the low nineties, the air damp and the sun beating down with a ferocity that can only be found in the islands around the equator. The previous week had been full of preparation and celebrations of the holiday, topped off with a cocktail party at the Governor’s mansion. Halfway up the mountain in a large wooden house, the teachers mingled and drank in a crowd that was practically unrecognizable to themselves because everyone was wearing long pants and shoes. Larry had pulled out the one suit he had brought and cringed when he realized it was wool, but put it on knowing that the support of the governor kept the TV program going.

Plans were in motion for the family to attend Christmas Eve Midnight Mass that evening when word came of their very own Christmas miracle. This one did not involve a delivery of gold, frankincense and myrrh, but clothes, a washing machine and trolls! Christmas was nearly forgotten in the joy that greeted the announcement that the SS Sonoma had docked with the long-awaited household goods tucked in the cargo hold.

The household goods arrived on Dec. 24th! They are still sitting in the warehouse down by the dock and won’t be delivered for a week but at least the distance has been cut down considerably. I can always go down and touch the crates now!


That Christmas morning, with the knowledge that their gifts were just a preview of the excitement that was to come in the packing crates, the girls plunged into the pile of presents under the driftwood tree. Karen ripped open a package and pulled out a charming orange frock and slipped it over her head. Jean watched in dismay as she realized that the little dress she had ordered months ago now resembled a very tight shirt on her sprouting fourth child. She was pretty sure Chrissie wasn’t going to be very interested in that farm set, either.

The kids were busy with their gifts so Larry and I wandered around the neighborhood. He had on his maroon lava lava and a Santa Claus hat and whiskers we had made for a TV Christmas play. It was a gorgeous warm night – clear sky and millions of stars. We have no street lights — the only illumination comes from the houses or the porch lights, so you can really see the sky. As we were walking around, a group of Samoans came by singing Christmas carols. What a sense of unreality; stars, balmy breezes and carols. 



In answer to Dad’s question about how the Samoans observe Christmas, I believe the palagi influence has taken over. Most fales had strings of lights and Christmas trees and many families exchange gifts in the usual way. The New Year’s tradition is for groups of Samoans to travel about the villages singing and dancing in exchange for food or money. They have an interesting way of putting this. They knock on your door and ask if they can bring you some happiness for the New Year. A nut brown maiden about eighteen knocked on the door last night and asked if she could bring me some happiness, but damn it, my wife was home!


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