It’s currently 93 degrees Fahrenheit outside. Or should I say, 33 degrees…Celcius… If I didn’t add the celsius part, it might sound more “normal” to my ears. But the hot sun shining outside my window reminds me that we live in the southern hemisphere. It’s almost summer here…and it’s almost Christmas too!
It all feels normal and yet not-so-normal. We are in our second Christmas overseas, and the “firsts” of last year are not so shocking, but there are some things here during the holiday season that we are still getting used to.
I guess I always understood Christmas as a season, and I didn’t even realize it. There is no Thanksgiving or Black Friday here to mark the beginning of a holiday scurry. Instead, people are slowly starting to put together ideas and plans for their summer vacation.
Really the celebration of Christmas here consists of a bbq on Christmas Eve, kind of akin to a 4th of July summer celebration in the states. On this night, people stay up until the wee hours of the morning, eating, lighting off fireworks, and opening their gifts. We will probably let the kids stay up till midnight this year — though we might regret it when they try to wake up early on Christmas morning to open their presents, North-American style. The mixing of two worlds like this sometimes clashes.
The month of December doesn’t signify “Christmas” here like it does in North American. Instead, “Christmas” is a day to celebrate, and “December” is summer BBQs, the end of the school year, and lots of warm sunny days.
So here we are – It’s summer and Christmas too! We are working on trying to assimilate our expectations, realities, and all that this entails. Here are some of my normal, not-so-normal feelings…
There is a strangely normal, yet not normal, fake Christmas tree in my family room next to the air-conditioner…covered with ornaments and memories of our past and present. Thoughts of which sometimes fill my eyes with tears.
I have a green pine centerpiece on the kitchen table. I did a double-take last week when I walked past it because it seemed so strangely out of place next to the palm tree outside the kitchen window.
It’s fun to put a pool up for the kids, but it feels weird to be sitting by the pool and not the sledding hill.
The commercialism and gift-hype just doesn’t reach the same level here, and it feels strange sometimes to not hear the Salvation Army bell ringing outside the shops that we walk past. There are no Amazon deliveries or mall Santas. I know, not something I really wish for, it just feels different.
Christmas foods here include a Christmas fruitbread, fruit salad, and a peanut butter candy. Hot chocolate and peppermint candy canes would be out of place in an Argentine home. It’s fun to be eating watermelon in December, but I’m strangely feeling patriotic and July 4thy.
So I guess it’s the things that haven’t changed that I’m looking forward to.
I’m looking forward to our Christmas morning with presents with Eric and my boys. And my parents! They have graciously decided to come and visit during this warm Christmas season, and we couldn’t be more excited to have them here to show them our home.
We are enjoying making new traditions and filtering out what we want to keep from the old traditions. We are still doing our advent calendar, we are still reading Christmas Scriptures, enjoying Christmas music, and having pizza on the night that we put up our Christmas tree.
Overall, I’m grateful to see the reality of Christmas, stripped from what were the customs of “Christmas tradition.” When not a lot of the tradition here matches what I’m used to–the reality that Jesus Christ came to earth as a baby, can shine out even more brightly. And I’m grateful for the life He lived so that I can have life. I am excite to share that with the people around me, wherever I am in the world. Though the concept of home is confusing unless I remember my heavenly home, I’m reminding myself of that this Christmas.
So I guess I’m still getting used to the idea of “Christmas” here, and sometimes it does, I’ll admit, feel a little weird.