Post 81 —The sun is shining, the grass is green, the orange and palm trees sway . . .

The Broquet family in 1968

The Broquet family in 1968

Chrissie carefully peeled the paper back from the linoleum block she had carved and inspected the printed image. It was a palm tree with a Christmas ornament hanging from a frond and she had smeared the ink while removing it. Again. Sighing, she crumpled up the paper and tossed it on the pile. Earlier that morning, she had confidently told her mother that she could easily print out forty of the images to be used as Christmas cards. Four hours later, she had done six of them. She went to find her mother to tell her that the family would really appreciate a Christmas letter instead. It was so much more personal.

December 1968

Manuia Le Kirisimasi!

It seems unbelievable but we are in the midst of our fourth Christmas season here in the South Seas. This year is much, much different from that first lonely one when we missed the family, snow and a piney-smelling tree. Even Christmas shopping seemed appealing compared to the panic of the possibility that the Sear’s order wouldn’t be on the boat that came in just before December 25th.

Many changes have occurred since our first Christmas here, both in the island and in our family.

We now get three planes in a week instead of the single anxiously awaited jet that used to come in at the crack of dawn every Sunday. The Samoan boys seem to have adopted sports shirts and long pants instead of the wildly patterned lava lavas. A wrap-around skirt, which is essentially what a lava lava is, may sound peculiar for a male but these kids didn’t lose one ounce of masculinity, even though they were wrapped up in a pink and yellow print.  The puletasi, the native dress the women wear, is now mostly seen on the older women. It is a short dress with an ankle length lava lava  worn underneath. The younger girls still wear the tops but are most likely to have shorts on under it.

We have a new warehouse and enlarged dock area, a new modern hotel, three tennis courts, several parks being developed, regular and more varied food supplies and more tourists and strangers invading “our” island. While most of the cars were once the small Japanese models, bigger and heavier stateside cars are now being imported. Oddly enough, it is the Samoans who have the big cars and the palagis have the small ones. This makes for exciting driving conditions since there is only one road from one end of the island to the other.

The stores all have names on them now, no more wondering which wooden building is which. Shopping still has the nightmarish aspect of a poorly organized scavenger hunt. One shops according to what one sees, not what one wants! Many good friends have left and while it is painful for a while, we keep in touch and are pretty certain we’ll be running into them again somewhere.

Larry has had a busy and frantic year administering to the needs of the principals and their families that are situated in each of the twenty-four Consolidated schools scattered among the villages all over the island. In addition to the endless paperwork, he rides over mountains in a jeep to the remote schools and over the ocean in a motor launch for 75 miles to the even more remote ones. Good thing he is a good sailor because it is a bouncy crossing.

I am in my second year as Assistant Supervisor of Materials and Productions. I have one of the longest titles in the building! Our office handles, correlates, prints and distributes all of the materials that go out to the schools. One of my duties for a while was to drive a tremendous pick-up truck. I was very proud of my accomplishment and was all set to apply to the Teamsters Union.

The girls, whether it is the sun and rain or would have happened anyway, have sprouted and matured beautifully. Kathy is a sophisticated sixteen and a half, Carolyn is an independent fourteen and Chris is a happy twelve. The maturing process really worked on Chrissie. She is referred to as the “best developed girl in the seventh grade.” There must be some distinction there because she smiles modestly whenever it is mentioned. Karen, our baby, is a long-legged eight and a half. All the girls go barefoot most of the time, are doing well in school and are as happy as most adolescents can be, although they itch to see the big city and bright lights.

We are planning to attend midnight mass as we did the first year. We know most of the people now, and palm trees swaying, the lights shimmering on Pago harbor and Christmas lights from the fales scattered all over the side of the mountain no longer seems strange or exotic. We are all very happy and contented and our initial “daring” adventure has subsided into a pleasant way of life. I hope our friends and relatives have an equally happy Christmas and we are looking forward to seeing many of you next summer.

Jean, Larry and Girls

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