Diary/Photo Journal

Week of December 23, 2007

I think it is obvious what we did this week as most of you had the same experience: time with family and friends.

In Brasil, Christmas Eve is the time for the family to get together and do what people do in many countries, eat way too much and then complain that you ate too much, all the while, thinking about eating the leftovers the next day.  Some practices transcend languages.

We spent our Christmas Eve day in the usual panic that often goes with getting everything ready and all the efforts put forth by so many people resulted in a great success.  Marjorie hosted 17 family members (as I have said before, when I married Gerson, I married a "clan") and it was easy to capture the smiles on all the faces. 

We had to take those family photos before
we ate too much

Carlos, Marjorie, Louise and Gerson
Gerson, Tia (Aunt) Marilda and Louise
Marilice (Carlos' sister) and Marjorie
Louise, Celso (cousin to Gerson and Marilda's son), Cleide
(pronounced "Clay-dee" - Celso's wife) and Gerson

Celso and Cleide's sons, Bruno
and Bernardo

Waiting patiently for the FOOD!
Bruno, Celso, Felipe, Gerson,
Bernardo and Tia Marilda

It was not long before Carlos was in the kitchen carving the wild duck, turkey and ham and everyone was finding excuses to hover near the kitchen.  It reminded me of when the airlines begin the boarding calls and everyone stands just on the outside of that invisible boundary just waiting for their seats to be summoned.  Fortunately, the stampede to the food did not produce any casualties; however, I cannot say the same after the actual consumption of the food.

Carlos taking wicked pleasure in carving the meat

Let the hovering begin - Rodrigo, Paulo (Carlos' brother)
and his daughter, the lovely Paula

The queue for the food

The star attractions:

Ham with the most awesome accessory:  Doce de Fio de Ovos
(the yellow stringy stuff -I hope to bring a few jars back with me,
it is that good!)

Turkey, Wild Duck, Bacalhau (salted cod fish) and pork loin

You know the food is good when the room quiets because everyone is so intent on enjoying their meal; however, it did not take long for the room to enliven itself with multiple conversations interrupted only by bursts of laughter.  Even though there were four separate tables set, there seemed to a "musical table" game wherein we all drifted from one table to another to exchange our well-wishes and to enjoy the company of all.

Gerson was designated the "disc jockey" and DJ-G was in true form.  From Brazilian music to traditional (American) Christmas music, from Bossa Nova to Charlie Brown Christmas music, everyone really enjoyed their reminisces.  One of the most recognizable and out-loud laughable songs was a Christmas song from the Chipmunks.  Now, seeing as only us "middle-agers" remembered this song, we all had that knowing look on our faces that took us all back to our respective childhoods and the good memories therein.  Who would have thought a chipmunk could bring back such good thoughts.

The "Head" table:

Dona Many (Carlos' mother), Tio (Uncle) Sebastiao,
Tia Marilda, Marjorie, Carlos, Paulo and Marilice

Marilice with Marlene (Marlene is Marjorie and Carlos'
full-time "assistant" as she takes care of the home, the lunch,
the laundry and was vital to the success of the Eve)

The kids' table:

Rodrigo, Felipe, Juliano (Paulo and Marilice's son)
and his sister, Paula

Felipe and Rodrigo thank their father in an uplifting way

As can be seen, the Eve was wonderful and sleep, even more so.  After a bit of a lazy start on Christmas Day (or Newtonmas Day as Sir Isaac Newton was born on December 25), we drove out to Lake Capivari to visit with our friends and previous website stars: The Caron-Harres family.  As Julio and Bela (that live in California) were also visiting their families for the holidays, we caught up with all of them at the family's lakehouse.

The sun made its appearance for most of the day and as though by devine intervention, when the food (yes, even more food) was ready, it started the typical summer showers.  With the rain forcing us inside the bar-b-que room where the food was prepared, we just had to eat while we were there.  A great crowd had gathered and I lost track of the names and who was related to whom.

Bela and her sister Ana Paula
strike a mermaid pose

The gathering in the bar-b-que "room"

The storm cometh and just misseth us with the worst of its rain

After recovering somewhat from all our indulgences, we made arrangements to catch up with an old friend of Gerson's that was also in Curitiba visiting his family.  Marco and his wife, Akemi, live in London and Marco has lived there for some 22 years.  I loved hearing him speak Portuguese with a British accent and then switch to English with all the British slang.  We quickly found ourselves sharing little conversations and laughing to ourselves as Marco was bringing back memories of some cheeky words me own mum liked to use. 

Marco's father, Jaime (pronounced Zseye-mee) and his mother Romilda (Ho-milda), were tremendous influences on Gerson's growing up (so, now we know who to blame!).  As Gerson was without his parents from age 12, Jaime and Romilda that lived across the street from Gerson's family's homes became parental figures.  Gerson's love of his futebol team, Coxa, comes partly from his going to games with Jaime and Marco and Gerson has spoke often of how Jaime was a "role model" for Gerson's wanting to study in a University.

Jaime has been a Professor of general Biology for many years and has published two books along with many other recognized academic accomplishments.  The stories were flowing quite readily and there was a fondness for Gerson in Jaime and Romilda's eyes that was exceptionally touching.

We toddled off to dinner after the visit and met up with a couple more friends of Gerson's and Marco's, Valcemar (a previous website honoree) and Gianna, a whirlwind of energy.  The conversation was flowing so freely that almost three hours flew by before we even knew it.

Visiting Marco's family:

Marco and his wife, Akemi
Jaimie and Romilda
Gerson and Louise

Our dinner:  Louise, Gerson, Valcemar, Gianna, Akemi and Marco

We ended the week at Marjorie's beach condo near the village of Motinhos and what a fantastic way to digest our food and all that had happened in the year.

Just a little side note:  On Christmas Eve, I was wearing a rather unusual pendant that I had specially made following my Father's death.  As my Father was quite the gin Martini lover, I had him cremated with a huge bottle of his favorite gin, Beefeaters.  During the cremation process, the glass of the bottle fuses into a somewhat unflattering clump; however, I had the "clump" dissected and a small portion polished and made into my pendant.  When you look closely at the glass, you can see the imprint left from the ashes that were embedded in the glass, much like an animal leaves a "fossil" record in stone.

Picture of the pendant
(This is not a thumbnail
so there is no link to
a bigger picture)
A magical
view from
our bedroom
window at
home in

Time at the beach and nothing
better than fresh chilled Coco juice

In the last picture, I wonder
who is having the most fun!

With the end of the week, came the looking forward to the New Year. 

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