The smallest muppet was up first on Christmas morning. The muppets woke excited to see that Santa had left them stockings full of treats and a picture of the goodies he left in Doha. We enjoyed Christmas morning coffee on the balcony of the small guest house we stayed at and prepared to travel to our next destination.
On our way to our next hotel we stopped at a beach just outside of Galle. There our guide showed us one of the memorials set up for the victims of the 2004 Tsunami. He like so many people that day lost family and friends, and every year they hold a remembrance ceremony on the beach where we stood. We visited a small museum of photo graphs where you really got to see the massive destruction that this natural disaster had caused. The owner of the museum shared her story with us and told us that there were 32,000 people killed that day and another 6000 missing. As we drove through the country side you could still see the foundations of houses that had once been homes to so many people.
We travelled to our guides village which after the disaster was under 12 feet of water. He took us to his family house where his mother, sisters, niece, nephew and brother in laws greeted us with a table full of sweet treats and tea. He explained that these were the type of treats that they cook on their feast days to celebrate and because it was our Christmas Day they wanted to share with us. His family being Buddhist do not celebrate Christmas but they went out of their way to make our day special.
They showed us how high the water was on their house and it amazed me how a village or a country can rebuild itself and be even stronger after a tragedy like this. Our guide told me that with the help of so many countries and volunteers after the Tsunami people were able to rebuild. Two waves destroyed the lives of so many that day but the wave of compassion that followed was something the world can be proud of.
It was a different way to spend Christmas Day but a humbling one. It makes you grateful for all the blessings that we have in our lives, and thankful for the loved ones that are here to share them with us.
On Christmas Eve when I was a little girl we were always allowed to open one present. We were always at my Nanny’s house after we had gone to Mass and the present was always new pajamas. I loved getting new pjs so last Christmas I decided to continue on this tradition.
I told the muppets they could open one present after we had gotten home on Christmas Eve. They all sat in front of the tree exhausted from the nights festivities but excited to be opening gifts. As they all ripped off the paper and realized that it was not a toy or something really cool they all started to cry. We put three exhausted and disappointed boys to bed and Dave made me promise not to ever give them pajamas as a gift on Christmas Eve again.
So this year I had a new strategy. I tied each pair of pjs with a big red bow and left them on their pillows on Christmas Eve. The oldest muppet was concerned that Santa would not know what part of Sri Lanka we were in I assured him that Santa’s elves would be delivering a special set of pajamas so that Santa would be able to find them this year. They thought this was great they were excited to get in to bed and go to sleep tonight!
I guess sometimes old traditions just need a little something extra to get the approval of the muppets! Happy Christmas Eve!
I woke up this morning as excited as a child on Christmas morning. I have been waiting for this day since we booked our trip in June. It was elephant day! We arrived late last night to our hotel. Everyone was exhausted after a long day of driving through the country side. We could barely see the river flowing outside our balcony but you could hear the loud roaring of the water below. I told the muppets that tomorrow morning we would see elephants bathing in that river.
We quickly finished our breakfast the following morning and started the trek to the end of the street towards the elephant orphanage. As we walked out the front of the building a small herd of elephants passed by heading towards the river. We all stopped in shock that they were walking right in front of us! The elephant orphanage was even more overwhelming.
A herd of at least 20 elephants young and old were all eating in a big field. Lots of people stood around watching them eat and you could see that each family or group was being ushered in to the field buy the “keepers”. They pushed the reluctant and completely overwhelmed muppets towards one of the elephants to pet it. The youngest muppet who loves elephants was frightened by the size of the animal so I looked for something smaller for him to pet. After a few minutes we came across a baby elephant. His small little trunk curled around the smallest muppets hand and he was sold. “I love that baby elephant mummy” he told me later “That is my baby elephant!”
We spent the rest of the morning feeding, bathing and watching the elephants. The youngest and the middle muppet were both brave enough to be dragged kicking and screaming on to the back of an elephant. The elephant ride ended up being both exciting and horrifying but both muppets agreed at the end of the day that it was their favorite part of the day.
At the end of the day I sat by the river while all three muppets played Star Wars around me. It was the perfect end to the day. “It was the bestest day!” the youngest muppet said and I would have to agree with him. A day full of adventure, once in a lifetime experiences and lots of memories to take home.
We left the sandy beige of the desert last Friday and begun out adventure in Sri Lanka. The muppets were greeted at the airport by Christmas carols and our smiling bus driver who placed flowers around each of their necks. The smallest muppet asked if we were in the jungle yet and the oldest commented on how green everything was. We traveled for hours on our bus to our hotel. It was not far away but the traffic was so crazy in the city since it was Friday night. The muppets marveled at the tuc tucs speeding past us on the road and all the Christmas lights and giant statues of Buddha.
We have spent the last three days in the cultural triangle, exploring ancient cities and learning about the religions in this country. The boys climbed over 1200 stairs up to the top of Lion Rock where the Ancient king had his summer palace. There were so many people amazed the the youngest muppet made it the whole way on his own and many people who offered to carry the little prince on the way up!
The oldest muppet has new questions every day about Buddha and everything that we are seeing. I think they learn more on a trip like this then in school sometimes. On the way home yesterday everyone was talking about their favorite parts of the day and how much they enjoyed themselves. I had the smallest muppet curled up on my lap asleep with his puppy cuddled in his arms. As I kissed the top of his head I could smell the sandalwood incense in his hair that the pilgrims at the temples were burning. I thought to myself that this was my favorite moment of the day, that even tho we are traveling through this amazing country it really would not be anything special if we were not all together.
Yesterday marked the first day of international week at the oldest and middle muppets school. This is a huge week for the school which has almost 2000 students which are from 75 different nations. The opening ceremonies were held in the afternoon, all the students were asked to dress in their countries colors or national dress.
Each country was represented in this ceremony by two flag bearers. The oldest and the youngest child from each country proudly carried their countries flag in to the gymnasium. All of the student cheered loudly for their countries as they were announced and the flags were brought in.
The message that was presented through the entire ceremony was one of tolerance, global unity, and love. It was inspiring to hear these young people speak of their school as a mini United Nations, people working together united with a common goal. The president of the student council commented that you could watch the mini Olympics in the school yard at ASD but instead of countries competing there is encouragement among one another. Students spoke of humanitarian trips that the school had taken to help those in need and fund raisers to help fellow schools affected by war. Everyone agreed that only together as a global community can we make a difference.
In Doha we live in a very privileged environment and I think all of us strive to raise our children with the proper morals and guide them to want to make a difference in the world no matter how small. I feel blessed to be out here with my family learning about other peoples cultures, traditions and beliefs. If living here teaches the muppets nothing else other then to be global citizens and to embrace other people for who they are and not what they believe or what they look like then I will be a happy and proud mama.