In 1929, Caroline and Margaret were determined to celebrate the holiday in this remote part of Papua New Guinea. A “make do” tree was a “palmetto that had been turned upside-down which gave the branches the proper tannenbaum swoop”. A roll of toilet paper was shaped and formed to use along with red and yellow lace and draped around the tree. Pairs of socks were filled to look like balls but Margaret’s lighting was sheer genius according to Caroline. Margaret went to the river and collected leaves and pieces of bark which was tied around the stalk. Once the sun set and the daylight diminished, the whole tree glowed with fireflies and stayed the entire night. To quote from Caroline’s book New Guinea Headhunt, “They were attracted there either by the leaves or by the ladies on the leaves, and in either case made the only truly astral light we have ever seen coming from a Christmas tree.”
They ate a Christmas dinner of tinned mutton, yams and taro from the garden and dessert was an ambrosia made from puny little oranges, bananas and shredded coconut. Margaret used her musical talents with the ukulele, which by this time in their long journey, had only two strings remaining. The local hosts and the ladies laughed and sang the evening away. Caroline’s last thought of the evening was “This Christmas our thoughts did not wander nostalgically the thousands of miles to home. We had been gone too long; we had learned what every good traveler must, to live our lives where we found ourselves.”
Best wishes for the Holiday Season and remember Caroline’s words to live life wherever you are.
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