Friday, February 15, 2008

Brazilian Valentine's Day and Other Random Thoughts

Happy Valentine's Day a day late. Brazil doesn't have a Valentine's Day. :( My kids go to a semi-American school, it's really like 90% Brazilian, but the classes are all taught in English and it follows an American curriculum. They try to celebrate the "big" American holidays, but they are never quite the same.

Living overseas the schools our kids have gone to have never celebrated: Columbus Day, President's Day, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, or Memorial Day. When we started out I had big dreams of helping my kids appreciate their "Americaness" through meaningful educational discussions and coloring sheets of the first presidents and Martin Luther King, but alas, in actuality the days just kind of pass me by.

Thanksgiving's only slightly better. In Venezuela the kids had had Thanksgiving day off, and Guapo would take the afternoon off work and would celebrate with other Americans. Not so in Mexico City where they attended a British School, or in Small Town, Mexico where we had no American friends. And here in Brazil where they already have 3 of their own national holidays in November. Sorry Thanksgiving-there's no room for you here! To appease the few Americans at the school, they held a big turkey lunch for the kids and their families (of course they still had rice and beans, but it was a nice gesture anyway).

To celebrate Valentine's Day, the younger kids received a note that they needed to bring in a valentine card for each child in their class. Since the general population doesn't celebrate the day, there were no pre-made, pre-packaged Valentines which is, of course, the route I would have taken. I went to a paper store and spent close to $40.00 (sorry Guapo), buying paper, glitter, glue, etc. to make our own Valentines at home. Margarita (9 yrs) spent a lot of time working on hers and they turned out very nice. Julio (7 yrs old) didn't want to make any so I didn't force the issue, and Juan Carlos's looked like a 4 year old made them-very cute. All of the hearts had happy faces and arms and legs which made me smile.

That should have been good enough, but then I decided to be an over-achiever and make sugar cookies for all of their classes (I couldn't very well have Julio, one of only three Americans in his class showing up empty handed, and if I was going to make them for Julio I may as well make them for Margarita and Juan Carlos also).

Why do I do this to myself? Sugar cookies should only be made for Christmas-they are too much work if I do them by myself and too much of a mess if I let the troops help me. Oh well. Long boring story short-somehow, despite the very curvy drive to school, the slippery plates, the quickly melting frosting, the fighting and some tears, the majority of the 60 cookies made it to school. Phew!

I cracked up when Julio and Juan Carlos came home with a bunch of cards that looked like this one:

Yep. Full on cheesy greeting cards. They probably cost $5.00 each. The parents that gave those must have been appalled by Juan Carlos's personified hearts!

Gaupo got me these beautiful orchids. I hope I can manage to keep them alive for a while.

Random Thoughts

Juan Carlos asked me today if Grandma Sue (Guapo's mom) celebrates Christmas. I told him she did and he told me he's "pretty sure she does Hanukah"

A couple of days ago he told Guapo he's "a little bit American even though I've never lived there, and mostly Venezuelan." (Juan Carlos was born in Caracas)

Finally, I have a picture of me at the carnaval parade. No thanks to the people we were with that only got pics of Guapo-geesh like he's the boss or something. Luckily a friend of mine, whom I didn't even know was going to be there saw me and took this picture. You can't see the entire costume (like the knee-high orange boots), but you can get a better idea.

I kind-of look like an elf, don't you think?

And lastly-here's another shot of Kitty mocking me with her comfort:

Did you know in Spanish (at least in Mexico and Venezuela) you say "Happy Weekend" instead of "have a nice weekend"? Well, now you do. Portugues is closer to English: " a good weekend for you".

Happy weekend to you!


Janet said...

That's funny about the fancy cards. Steve doesn't even spend that much on a card for me! :)

Up until she was about three, Sadie used to go limp, drop to the floor and cry whenever she would hear thunder. I just used to tell her how much I love lightning and thunderstorms (which is true) and be totally overdramatic about how excited I was when one was brewing. Now she loves them and hopes for one every Sunday afternoon like I do. :)

Liz said...

Happy weekend! (I will be stealing that - it makes me smile to say it :) )

Maine Mom said...

What would I do without pre-made Valentine cards?! And Valentine baking here (although I did have intentions to, but never did).

Great picture of you! You look like you're having a great time!

Traci said...

LOVE the carnaval picture.

And I like it that you have a mostly Venezuelan child. :)

utmommy said...

That's quite the fancy card!

Your costume looks great.

Happy Weekend!

Fabiola said...

Dear Gabriela,

Valentine's Day in Brazil is celebrate on June 12th. But it is not a "sweet" day like in US, that involves all the family. It is much more for couples and for them to have one night with a little romance. It is one day before Saint Antony's day (Brazil is a Catholic country) and he is suposed to be the Saint who can find you a good marriage (if you area single).
By the way, I am working in Big City during all 2008. Every time my flight lands at the Santos Dumond airport, I always remember you.

Tenha um bom final de semana!!


marina said...

wow, I like what Fabiola just said I didn't know that about Brazil V-day is in June!

Well I think your carnaval picture is a keeper it's only once in a life time that you will be able to do something as fun as that and you look great!!
and I don't know if your going to stay there another year or not but if you are the Valentine's cards are all on sale now 50% off and candies too you may want to ask your mom to stock up on some of them for you next year just in case you need them.
Happy weekend, marina

marina said...

PS, I just love your cat with all my heart I wish I could take a good long nap like that with out my son bugging me for something !!

momofalltrades said...

LOL at your cookie baking. We're v-day cookie baking sisters now! LOL

And I think you look like an elf too! That costume is just amazing.

Calandria said...

You look adorable in that photo! For some reason it put me in mind of an elaborate, guilded drum major. :)

That kills me about those parents dropping all that money on cheesy cards. Homemade is so much cooler.

Maybe if your kids live in the U.S when they are older if will be fun for them to learn about the holidays then. Maybe they will even appreciate them more that way--sometimes I think I take some of those "lesser" holidays for granted because I grew up with them.

smart mama said...

next year i'll pick you up a load from the dollar tree and ship them to you and you can be the brazilian black market valentines supplier!!

Kari said...

That carnival picture of you is worth getting enlarged and framing. Awesome! I can't believe you made sugar cookies for all...whenever I get that thought, it takes ONE TIME and then I'm cured for another 5 years or so.
Happy weekend!

di said...

classic! i especially love the card and the gorgeous picture of you! i remember you wearing that outfit back in high school! hee hee!