Wednesday, December 27, 2006


The last few days have been filled with heaps of fun, food, laughter, (extended host) family, and holiday cheer!

I officially was decommissioned from Warren Central School on December 21st, and it was weird to say good-bye to everyone at the campus where I've spent the last few months. Unlike the last day of school in the States, at Central their longest school "summer vacation" is under 1.5 months long, so there is a marked difference in the amount of jubilee in the whole process of letting out of school. I had been constructing Adriondack outdoor chairs for nearly 4 months at the Woods Shop at school, and I've finally given them to my first host family, the Sandell's, on Christmas Day! They turned out marveously, if I do say so myself.

Christmas Eve was a day of preparation, and, in true Australian style, I worked on that day! For tea (dinner) that night we actually went out to the Golf Club and had Chinese! How reverent to Christmas, I know! But it was a fun different way of celebrating the holiday Australian style. To satisfy any religious obligations I should fulfill for the sake of my family at home, I even attended Eve mass at the Church of England. My host mum, aunt, and two host grandmums and host sister and I were one of three, yes three families at the service. Australia is just not a religious country, although the Catholic Church down the road had a few more cars out the front. After service we drove around and looked at all of the beautiful Christmas lights, and since the hymns at Church left something to be desired, we sang Christmas Carols whilst driving!

My host dad loves Christmas morning so we got up extra early to open gifts with our immediate host family. I got some great practical and thoughtful gifts and was really quite spoiled on Christmas morn. My family from home sent me a package and I opened that as well! Much to my pleasant surprise, Bernadine made a hot glazed ham for Christmas lunch (the big meal), just for me because I love it so much, in addition to pork, chicken, and turkey, with all of the trimmings (sweet potato, cashew stuffing, pumpkin salad, etc.)! As if we weren't stuffed enough, there was the traditional Australian Christmas dessert of Christmas pudding (which is more of a moist cake, topped with warm custard and cream) and trifle (kiwi, strawberry, cream, cake, etc. all in layers soaked in alcohol). We did our extended Christmas exchange, and before we knew it it was time for dinner! HA! Sandy's (host sis) boyfriend Sinclair's family joined us for Christmas tea and so did some host family friends, so we had a large merry group, and ate more of the same, with the addition of green salads.

To work off some of the excess food, we had a tournament game of bocce ball in the yard. It had rained very hard (yes!) on the Eve, and was just bitter freezing (by Warren standards) for Christmas and even Boxing Day morning. It was an unusual occurance, as Christmas is typically the hottest day of the year! Boxing Day was a continuation of festivities, a day of cricket (on the tv) and more relaxing and eating with family! We had prawns and salads, and more ham, and just ate and ate and ate!!! I have great memories of the holidays here, hearing Sluggo's (my host uncle) stories about his youth, dancing around the Christmas tree, and just laughing together around the table!

Thus ends the Christmas festivities with the Taylor's! I've really felt like a part of the family these past few days and it's going to be very hard to leave! Speaking of leaving, my time in Warren has reached a premature end with Sydney New Year's Eve. I plan to go there and then move right to Newcastle, which means I have only 3 days left in Warren. I'm now scrambling to say my good-byes and get my stuff together...when it rains, it pours!

Until the New Year, Carl.


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