Re-creating the Holidays

It’s December 20th, and I hardly notice that there are, as they say in the US, “just four shopping days left until Christmas.” Sure, there are random decorations around town, including trees made of lights in the parks, shooting star–type light sculptures on lampposts, and a menorah in the plaza down the street, but it’s also 80-some degrees outside. But this isn’t just some freakish Florida-style warm-weather holiday season, it’s not even winter—there are flowers and trees full of lush leaves everywhere, sunset is just after 8 p.m., and the snowmen and totally overdressed santas I’ve seen for sale here and there are complete anomalies. I’ve been cracking up thinking about cutting up and hanging in the window some of those paper snowflakes we used to make in school. This weekend, maybe.

But it’s not just having my seasons turned upside down that’s making this year different than most. Since my parents and brother have gone to considerable expense and effort to be here, we’ve decided not to exchange presents this year (something I think we’ve been slowly moving towards for a while now)—each other’s presence is the present, and we’re all really looking forward to the time together. I certainly don’t miss braving the crowds at the mall, nor the mindless checking off of lists or the pressure of coming up with gifts just because it’s expected. And in the absence of that pressure has actually come inspiration, and I’ve happened upon some fun “just because” gifts. Being in a country with an unreliable mail system and expensive postage also leaves me feeling free to not send many holiday cards this year. So while I wouldn’t exactly say I’m not busy, little of my time is being spent on stressful holiday stuff, which is nice. Of course, trying to come up with food and activities to supplant our usual traditions is a unique challenge, and it’s the first time in many, many years that we won’t be relaxing in front of my parents’ big-ass tree on Christmas, listening to Garrison Keillor or whatever new CDs we’ve received. I have a feeling this won’t be the last Christmas we spend in a new location, so I hope we can start to create some portable traditions—there’s certainly no space in a suitcase or backpack for a live 12-foot tree and Grandma’s hand-knit stockings.

2 Responses to “Re-creating the Holidays”

  1. Dad Says:

    Actaully, while I missed the decorated big-ass tree, I did not miss putting it up and adding over 1200 lights!

    Christmas in BA was special in its own way…Thanks!!

  2. Jesse-Justin Says:


    You don’t know me, but I googled BsAs mail system (clearly not using such abbreviations) and your blog was one of the things that came up. I promise I’m not weird–I’m just a confused American alone in Buenos Aires. It looks like you’ve been here a while, and I arrived about 3 weeks ago. How on earth does mail work here? I have an apartment, and the package I sent myself via FedEx before I left showed up, but since then a FedEx package from my father has yet to show, as does one from my mother (via the regular U.S. post office). Any suggestions? I’m not going to put my email up here, but you can find my blog at to reply? Thanks.

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