I'm a communications strategist and writer with a long history of journalism in Canada, including 14 years of writing a column for the Victoria Times-Colonist. My partner and I began volunteering in Central America for Cuso International in 2012, and are currently working and living in Managua, Nicaragua. All views here are my own.
Oh, the weather outside's not frightful (and by the pool's delightful)
Copan Christmas elves
sitting by the pool today, sipping a cerveza
and thinking about what a very different Christmas I’ll be having this year.
This is my
first Christmas ever outside of Canada. I’m
not the type to make too big a deal out of Christmas, but I did have a few rituals
around the season. The absence of those rituals this year is making me newly aware
of the ones I’m missing and the ones I never did take much of a shine to.
weather, for instance. Maybe I dreamed of a white Christmas a few times as a
kid, but that desire pretty much went away once I started to drive a car and work for a living.
Yes, it’s a
little harder to summon Christmas feelings while lying poolside, despite the
colourful light display at one of the local drinking holes I walked past on the
way home and the inflatable snowman on a neighbour’s roof. But I will be perfectly happy Christmas
morning to throw the doors open and breathe in warm, tropical air.
I also don’t
miss Christmas carols in all the stores. Come to think of it, I don’t miss the
stores in Copan do carry a few Christmas supplies: Lights; garlands; Christmas
wrap; candles. There are poinsettias for Christmas – they grow here – and maybe
a turkey in the yard whose end is coming soon. But there’s no crazy mall scene
like I’ve been used to all those years, or hordes of people jammed into
over-stocked stores with a look of panic in their eyes.
come to the town square to throw around a few candies. But while he’s known
around these parts, my co-workers tell me that few Honduran kids ever get up
Christmas morning expecting to find gifts from Santa. I won’t shed any tears
for Santa’s absence, because it’s a strange myth when you get to reflecting on
definitely missing the many seasonal rituals involving family. I would have
made shortbread and homemade Bailey’s with at least one of my daughters by now,
and would have dug out the giant bag of tree decorations that always triggers
much reminiscing about when and how each ornament from the ragtag collection came
to be special and loved.
My son and
his family will be here with us over Christmas, so at least we’ll have a few family
members around. But that still leaves
four children, three grandchildren, two brothers and two sets of parents who we
won’t be spending Christmas with. I’m
really going to miss those guys.
Posadas are held nightly Dec. 1-24
I’ll miss the scraggly potted pine tree that I
dragged indoors to serve as our Christmas tree for the last six years. I’ll
miss the various Christmas gatherings that are a staple of this time of year –
the mulled wine, the fancy snacks, the excuse to put on nicer clothes. I’ll
miss the sheer abundance and variety of food and booze that punctuates the
season, although I won’t miss the two months of new-year dieting required to
shake off the Christmas bulge.
its own Christmas traditions to connect to, of course. Posada is a particularly lovely one. People walk through the
streets throughout December singing and carrying candles, each night visiting a
different posada – somebody’s home
designated as that evening’s resting place – where they’re welcomed inside.
Anyone can just join the group and follow along.
something happening every night in the square in the 10 days leading up to
Christmas, from theatre to celebrations related to the end of the Mayan
calendar Dec. 21. There are more tourists in town, more street vendors selling
grilled meats, more park vendors selling bright-red Delicious apples imported
for the season.
There’s a nativity
scene at the big Catholic church that we want to see. And there are fireworks,
endless fireworks, which apparently will just intensify in the days to come. I’m
not so enamored of that tradition, but I know my grandsons are going to love
Best of the
season to you and yours, however you define your Christmas. I will think of you
when I’m lying at the beach, and you can think of me when your family gathers around
the turkey. There’s something to be said
for both of those.