Lucky for me, Christmas preparations usually don’t only mean running to disasterously full Long Island malls at the last minute, but are also filled with lots of home cooking and family time.  This year the main christmas celebration will be bringing loads of gifts up to a small settlement called Arinconada in the mountains about 2 hours north of here.

I returned to Nicaragua with suitcases of toys from St. John’s Church Christmas fair and donated by a parent of the Waldorf School of Garden City to donate to the Arinconada preschool.  Melania, a friend of ours and the founder/teacher of the preschool, came to Leon and tested out some of the puzzles and toys.  They all passed the teacher test!

The next task was to pack 100 little bags of gifts for the kids at Arinconada.  We bought bags and bags of little toys by the dozen, and divided the kids up by age.  Rattles and little plastic bowls for the kids under 3, toy cars and little dolls for under six, and bigger dolls and water pistols for the older kids.  And balloons and candy for everyone.  The process of packing it all up into packages starting with Rachel, Simon and I making a giant soup to feed all the elves we had invited to help us.

The giant soup was actually ENTIRELY EATEN during the night, possibly the most impressive part of the activity.

Many friends came over to help, including my actress friend Sobeyda and her son, Fabrizio.

Simon and Sobeyda working on boys 3-6 packages.

Fabrizio and I struggled to get everything for girls 6-12 in the bags, and finally did what every other group had to do as well – tape things to the outside!

We got all the packages made and even had birthday cake for Nestor.

We are leaving today to go and throw a Christmas Eve party at la Arinconada.  I wish you all a happy, peaceful Christmas full of friends, family, and lots of good food homemade food!

The center of Leon, sparkling in the strong Christmas sun!