Sunday, December 16, 2012

Oh, the weather outside's not frightful (and by the pool's delightful)

Copan Christmas elves
I was 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.
Cold 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, either.  
The variety 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.
Santa did 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 it.
However, I’m 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.
Copan has 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.
There’s 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 it.
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. 

1 comment:

Albertarocks said...

Hi Jody. I discovered your blog when a link to your latest post was posted by my buddy Mayascribe. He'd provided it in one of his comments over at Seeking Alpha where he's fairly active. He's in the Honduras right now visiting with local friends of his who have helped him with research for a book he's writing (a novel).

There was a time when I myself was very active on Seeking Alpha. But I've moved on and created my own blog about a year ago. That's where I compose most of my short technical articles and where I launch them from. Sometimes I write one that I feel a larger audience might appreciate so I submit them to larger websites that seem more than happy to publish them.

I really enjoyed your Christmas in Honduras piece. I've never spent a Christmas outside Canada either. But I did spend one in Victoria where my sister lives. Even that was such a culture shock for me that it took me 3 years to recover from it. Green lawns in December... are you kiddin' me?

Anyway, just for the heck of it I thought I'd drop in and say hello... and wish you una más sincero Feliz Navidad.

All the best,
Dan (aka Albertarocks)