Christmas on Tristan...and a funneral
- From the blog, "Erik & Claire on Tristan da Cunha
January 7, 2008 erikclaire
The last two weeks have been absolutely wonderful as we have both been
at home and have been making the most of the time to rest and relax
and spend some time together (normally bickering about who makes the
most mess) and spend time with Caitlin (who is currently ahead in the
polls as `mess maker of 2007/8'). We've been doing quite a bit of
visiting to drop off Christmas presents, and have a bit of a natter
with our island neighbours. It's amazing that, despite living within a
fairly short distance of each other, we find that we end up seeing
very little of our friends in the village. Christmas does offer an
opportunity to visit and we have made the most of it. We had good
intentions of dropping all our gifts off before Christmas day, and had
planned on averaging 4-5 gifts per day for the week leading up to
Christmas! Ha! At an hour or more a visit and Erik and I only really
getting going in the early afternoon, we have been lucky to average 2
visits a day - with the accompanying drinks and gossip at each house.
This year we were also really honoured to be invited to `family'
functions with islanders - something we hope is an indication that
they don't mind us too much!
Christmas day in our house was total chaos, with the carpet around our
tree piled high with presents - most of them for Caitlin. Children
here are the total focus of Christmas, and in many cases, families
seem to forego presents for the adults in favour of the kids. We have
taken most of the presents Caitlin was given and put them in our back
room, and give her a new toy every now and then, as she wouldn't know
what to do with herself or the gifts, if she had them all at once.
Erik has finally given in to his beachcombing ways and now has the
whole village talking about him being `Steptoe' and just needing the
`Son'. We've decided to take a liberty and change the name to Steptoe
and Daughters, as there aren't likely to be any more kids - well, not
from this union anyway .
Sadly Hubert Green (82) passed away on Saturday 5th January. It was
really very unexpected, but fortunately (is it appropriate to use that
word?) seems it was fairly quick, which is a blessing, but a great
loss for the island.
I went to the funeral to represent the `family' and was very touched
to see how funerals are conducted here (this being my first funeral
attended on Tristan). The eulogy was very personal, as of course,
everyone knew Hubert, and it was lovely to see so many people
attending, to show their respects.
I believe the funeral procession normally starts from the hospital and
consists of the priest and lay ministers, along with the `hearse' and
family and friends who walk behind alongside to the church. The
service is normally fairly short, but there is a section for the
reading of emails and messages from islanders who are currently off
island and it was really touching to hear how many of them had taken
the time and trouble to write to express their sense of loss and send
best wishes and thoughts to the families.
From the church, we all proceeded to the graveyard, where the final
internment is done. The family then, I believe, proceed home for a
wake. It was all very touching and a reminder again just how different
this community is in so many, many ways.
We are hoping to have a good number of fishing days before the end of
January, so that Erik and the guys can complete the quota and Erik can
then, hopefully, travel home with me toward the end of February. A
good friend of mine is getting married and I need to leave in Feb in
order to make her wedding in March.
One of my resolutions this year is to write more often, so let's see
if I manage it