Last year, Andrew had a brilliant idea for lifting our spirits during the holiday season. We had just arrived to site and were at the beginning of our Peace Corps service. This meant that we could not have visitors nor visit the states. To dive deeper into local celebrations, fight off feeling homesick, as well as start our own family tradition, the 12 Days of [Nilsen] Christmas were born!
Each year, we re-write the classic song to include things we could find and explore during the holidays, wherever we are in the world. This year, we shared our tradition with my dad and step-mom as they visited us for a week here in Nicaragua.
The 12 Days of [Nilsen] Christmas 2015
1. Dec. 14th:
A Partridge in a Pear Tree – A Partido of Pinochle
We’ve missed our family game, so we finally took the time to learn how to play Two-Handed Pinochle. Andrew’s grandmother had sent us the instructions ages ago in a package and we’re super excited to play a lot more now!
2. Dec. 15th:
Two Turtle Doves – Two Tuani Dishes
It’s the end of the school year here in Nicaragua! On this day we had our last TEPCE training of the year and headed to a staff party afterwards. There were lots of laughs, fun slang, and, of course, good food.
3. Dec. 16th:
Three French Hens – Three Fantastic Hot wings
We know we used hot wings last year, but what can we say? We might be addicted. Besides, our boss, Miguel, treated us as he was coming through town. We couldn’t pass up the offer, nor stop at only 3.
4. Dec. 17th:
Four Calling Birds – Four Calls Back home
We took some time today to call a few loved ones. Technology is incredible! Pacific Northwest, Southern Illinois, California, and even Australia. Home is where your loved ones are.
5. Dec. 18th:
Five Gold Rings – Five Golden Ring cookies (& 5 Good PCV fRiends.)
What’s better than making Christmas cookies during the holiday season? Doing so with great friends.
6. Dec 19th:
Six Gesse-a-Laying – Six Granadian Luxuries
The padres arrived! We spent the first evening with my parents in one of our favorite Nicaraguan cities, Granada. We enjoyed lots of luxuries: yummy salad, pesto pasta, time with my parents, watching the Presidential debate, and the hotel bed/robes/air conditioning/the best shower in all of Nicaragua (seriously, we couldn’t pull ourselves out of it until we were pruny and woozy from hot water/high pressure heaven).
7. Dec. 20th:
Seven Swans-a-Swimming – Seven Swimmers Swimming
After a good night of rest in Granada, we headed south to San Juan del Sur. We spent the day catching up, watching the gentle waves and swimmers, and enjoying paradise.
8. Dec. 21st:
Eight Maids-a-Milking – Eight Marvelous Mariscos
What better way to eat on the coast, than to stuff yourself with incredible seafood. From cheviche to seafood soup, and tuna tartare to lobster ravioli…we not only ate 8 different types of seafood, but we ate like kings.
9. Dec. 22nd:
Nine Ladies Dancing – Nine Landscape Designers
Unknowingly, we found front row seats to the 2nd Annual Sandman Making Contest hosted by the Expats of San Juan del Sur Facebook group. The nine designers kept us quite entertained for the couple hours they worked on their masterpieces. Especially the ones who didn’t know the dogs had been marking their territory as the sand was dug up and used.
10. Dec. 23rd:
Ten Lords-a-Leaping – Ten Linda Learnings
Throughout a trip like this, you can learn a lot about your travel companions, and on the tenth day our goal was to get to ten. Few examples: although Dad could be considered a food snob, he was happy to order pepperoni pizza with me every time – apparently it’s both of our favorites. Michele played saxophone back in the day, and Andrew played trombone. Dad had also never seen the Pacific Ocean before this trip. So on the 23rd, we had stunning views of the Pacific coastline from the deck of a catamaran.
11. Dec 24th:
Eleven Pipers Piping – Eleven Piscina/Playa Pictures
For La Noche Buena we played fancy tourists and headed up to Pelican Eyes, a fachento resort overlooking the bay, to enjoy the pools and view. We were also graced with a beautiful sunset #5. They kept blowing us away every night.
12. Dec. 25th:
Twelve Drummers Drumming – Twelve Diacachimba Delicacies
Christmas Day, we headed to our new favorite haunt in San Juan del Sur, Sushi “La Barra”! We ate 12 delicious, delectable, diacachimba morsels and wish we could have been able to stuff ourselves more.
And there you have it! Our Second Annual 12 Days of [Nilsen] Christmas in the bag. As you can see, we had a blast, ate some great food, and had one of the best Christmases ever spending time with family in our beautiful corner of the world. Who knows what next year will bring?!
Merry Christmas to all.