Sunday, December 27, 2009

My Buenos Aires Christmas

Being away from home this Christmas wasn’t as easy as I though it was going to be. Since I moved to BA I’ve only really had one attack of homesickness—the kind with the incessant sobbing and fetal position maneuver—but that’s about it. I miss my family and friends constantly, of course, but it’s not a painful or depressing thing…more of a “Wow I really appreciate them and love them and when I see them it’s going to be amazing!”

The holidays are different. When you grow up having Christmas a certain way, it’s bound to be a little strange the first time you do something new, and sadness and nostalgia is going to creep in. This year, being so far from home, I found myself thinking about all the little things that make Christmas Christmas, at least for me and my family: driving home at night and counting all the houses with Christmas lights, decorating our banister with garland and tinsel, my brother putting the plastic candy canes on the tree, the dogs’ tails knocking off all the ornaments on the bottom branches. I can remember each Christmas decoration that we put up, and where it goes: the wooden train on the hearth, the miniature tree and the Nativity scene in the front room, the candle on the kitchen table. And the traditions that we as a family have established over the years—advent calendars, our particular way of opening presents, Christmas dinner, Boxing Day with the extended family.

All these things I missed greatly this year. But, thanks to my mom and the powers of Skype and international post, I was able to partake in some of our old traditions. Of course, being here in Buenos Aires I wanted to experience an Argentine Christmas as well, even while I was missing my traditional family celebrations. The result was a very interesting Christmas—a kind of cobbled-together holiday made up of parts that clearly aren’t meant to fit, but that come together in a lovely mess when forced, compelled by the conflicting emotions of melancholy, excitement, and curiosity.

Here is a compilation of my Christmas 2009, in list form naturally:

-bought tiny Christmas tree, tinsel, and bows, and decorated the apartment. Barely.
-package received from mother, contents included: advent calendar (yay!), ornaments for tiny tree, stocking stuffers…this beautiful package made my Christmas, totally worth the 3 hour wait at Retiro!
-new roommate contributes flashing red Christmas lights to the décor, which we hang around the picture of the horse in the living—it’s amazing how tiny little bulbs that glow in the dark say “Christmas”
- downloaded Celtic Woman Christmas CD and listened to it constantly—every day on the way to work for the week before Christmas, those lovely Irish ladies drowned out the roaring of the 106 colectivo…too bad they couldn’t help with the sweating
-made Christmas Cookies! Instant transportation back in time to when we used to make cookies at home, my brother and I covered in flour, decorating cut-outs of bells and stars and trees with blue and pink sprinkles, me eating the dough…some things never change
-early in the morning on Christmas Eve (3 am), I can be found sitting on a doorstep down some street, passing around bottles of Isenbeck with my teammates after an hour of intense indoor soccer…not a traditional part of Christmas back in the States
-received texts from new Argie friends saying “felices fiestas” and “Merry Christmas”
-watched the 1969 “Frosty the Snowman” and “A Christmas Story” (frah-gee-lay, must be Italian!)
-attended an outdoor mass in Recoleta on Christmas Eve, despite not being Argentine and not being Catholic. It was a beautiful ceremony on a lovely night, and reminded me of the church service at my aunt’s church that we usually go to (minus the cold, the flute solo, and O Holy Night)
-Christmas Eve dinner = 1 pizza with ham and red peppers, calamari, and 2 bottles of Malbec with Anna at Plaza Serrano. Accompanied by people-watching, Christmas fireworks (a tradition here, kind of like the 4th of July), and much discussion of men
-Christmas Eve became Christmas Day about halfway through the first bottle of wine
-stayed out until 6 am, tried to watch the sun rise from my apartment but the wine insisted on sleep
-Christmas Day!! Woke up slightly hungover but excited about the pile of presents under my tiny tree (courtesy of mother, of course!)
-Skyped family at home, opened presents together, saw my brother’s long hair, watched the dog unwrap gifts with her teeth—almost like I was there. Perfection.
-spoke to best friend on Skype while eating Christmas dinner (polenta, hot dogs, 5 Christmas cookies)
-watched “Love, Actually” and cried about 8 different times…gotta love Love, especially at Christmas time

So that was my Christmas this year. Different, yes. But different doesn’t always mean worse. And when it comes to love and appreciation and the true Christmas spirit, it doesn’t matter where in the world you are…Santa will always find you. FELIZ NAVIDAD!

1 comment:

  1. Go to any friend house, put a pouty face, and mourn a little. and you will get invited to an Argentine Cristmas.