Saturday, July 2, 2011
Christmas in July
I'm sure the people I work with are getting tired of hearing me say, "Me siente Navidad" ("It feels like Christmas to me"), but I can't help it. Imagine my surprise when I got off the Subte yesterday morning to find Christmas trees displayed in a store window! Don't worry, it's just a fluke. The Argentine's celebrate Christmas in December like we do, they just do it in shorts instead of sweaters.
Besides this picture and the lights adorning the potted evergreens at Regina & Torcuato cafe (where I go to read and have a cup of hot tea sometimes), there are no signs of yuletide merriment in the typical sense. No signs of Papa Noel, nor colorfully wrapped parcels, nor jingle bell tunes. But now that the real cold has set in (55high/35low), I'm discovering the more subtle archetypes that I have of the winter holiday season. The smell in the air is a little smokey, presumably from the famous Argentine parrilla, mixed with the acute sweetness of roasting almonds and peanuts in the street-side food carts. This is a Christmas imprint I picked up spending two winters in Spain. The city sidewalks are indeed busy sidewalks, and the shoppers rush home with their treasures...though not because it's gift time, rather seasonal sale time. And of course, there's the hot tea and coffee (though not much hot chocolate). It all makes me want to curl up with some of my Dad's famous chili and Love Actually, one of my Christmastime favorites (though really you can watch it year-round).
It occurred to me while I was taking all this in that I'm right on par with my family Christmas tradition as well. For many years, instead of waking up to presents under the tree on Christmas morning, my parents, brother, and I would unwrap gifts on Christmas Eve and then head to Grandma's house. We spent Christmas morning cooking and delivering food to shut-ins in and around Ashdown, AR, an initiative led by my grannie from a little historical house- one of Ashdown's treasures- for years. In other words, I volunteered. And here I am again...sipping soup, singing Christmas songs in my head, and doing a volunteer project. It's all very surreal.
So, in the spirit of Noel (and because I know all of you back home are smoldering and need a Christmas vacation right about now), I wish you good tidings and a little Christmas cheer.
To my parents - both my Mom and Dad, and Bobby and Paige (who right now are singing Christmas carols around the piano in my honor, like the old days except for the swimsuits and smoked ribs) - I love you and miss you! It was great to be able to visit today.
And to my CSPS friends in the southern hemisphere - stay warm! Hope you are enjoying the winter weather as much as I am!