Last year, we were able to make our second, yearly trip home to celebrate Thanksgiving (and if we are being real, also football and deer hunting season).
Which meant that our Christmas was here in Chile. And though it was lovely, it was green.
Very, very, green.
In the Southern Hemisphere, Christmas basically kicks off summer vacation. Something like Memorial Day at home. People use it as an opportunity to head to the beach, cabin or whatever might be their preferred summer getaway.
For better or worse, we have come to realize that we are simply cut from a slightly different Christmas cookie mold than those from the tropical climates.
I’m thinking, a snowflake shaped one.
Enter: “Cultural Awareness.”
Up to this point, we have mostly celebrated Christmas in a snow-covered, northern climate. Spending a significant portion of our Novembers and Decembers with family and friends, in the kitchens, watching the snow float to the ground, as we make (and eat) cookies, fudge, pies, and other holiday delights. We start listening to Christmas carols the day after Thanksgiving, and fill our hearts with yuletide joy at holiday music programs and parades. We become accustomed to the jingle of the Salvation Army Bell Ringers at mall entrances, and realize that everyone becomes just a little bit more friendly, greeting and leaving each other with a Merry Christmas or a Happy Holidays and a smile. We nostalgically perform a year in review as we put together our Christmas card photos, and we make calls and send messages to people that we haven’t spoken to in far too long. We sing with a little more gusto at mass, and gorge ourselves in spiced cider and wings over Sunday football. We eagerly await the first snowfall so that we can wrestle on our snow pants and winter-gear, and we pass the hours outside building snowmen, sledding, and dodging snowballs. We warm up at the end of the day with a cup of hot chocolate, and we literally dream of sugar plums in our cozy beds at night to the sound of the furnace hushing us to sleep through the vents.
Well, Maddie does anyway. She actually dreamed of sugar plums, once.
The expectation of a November and a December such as this has become second nature to us.
The culture we are raised in is like the air we breathe.
We really only realize our need for it once we don’t have it. We live it and breathe it. It gives us life.
And so, Christmastime is really just one example, though one of the more profound ones, of our increased cultural self-awareness during this journey abroad.
This certainly doesn’t make one celebratory tradition better than the other. But because the one we are raised in is the very foundation of our entire beings, because everything else was built upon it and into it, naturally it has become the Christmastime of choice for us.
Don’t get me wrong. I certainly don’t mind the sun and warmth and summer activities that we have here this time of year. I adore being outside in the heat.
Like, really love it.
Yet all the same, herein enters the existence of a truth that I might not have been able to believe when we were still living in Wisconsin…especially if you would have told me during the months of January or February.
We wanted, no, needed, to escape the sun and heat and beach holidays of Latin America for a freezing cold, snow-filled Christmas with family & friends in the north!
For a couple gringos from the Northern Hemisphere, Christmas just needs to be white.
And most importantly, it needs to be with family and friends.
And a lovely time it was. Although when we arrived, there was shockingly hardly any snow on the ground, the kids worked with with they had at Auntie Rara and Uncle Tim’s, and soon thereafter we were the recipients of about 18 inches of snow at Ama and Boss’s.
It might as well have been gold falling from the sky. The kids were ecstatic.
‘Twas medicinal. Christmas cookie baking with family that we love and miss so much, including getting to rub Rara’s baby bump (praying the entire time she’d have her baby-to no avail!) and hug Uncle Andrew (who we hadn’t seen in 2 years!), sledding, 4-wheeling, snowman building, snowball fighting, swimming indoors, drinking hot chocolate, eating warm, yummy meals first in Austin, and then being further spoiled with a beautiful Christmas meal at the Davis household, and later at Ama and Boss’s, visiting and catching up with dear friends, and of course, especially for the kids, the arrival of Santa Clause-who came 3 times this year (in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Chile).
And after a lovely 3 weeks with family and friends, during the most wonderful time of the year, we were restored and revived, and were able to return with full hearts and renewed strength to summer and sun.
Although our culture gives us life, although it is like the air we breathe, the air here in Chile is air all the same, it is just of a different variety.
Our lungs might not be fully adapted…they might even be in the evolution stage forever.
But every day our body adjusts, ever so slightly. Every day we feel stronger. Every day the air pumps us full of life. I have even caught myself realizing that weeks have passed and I haven’t had to work to breathe. It has become easy and familiar in its own way. We have become cross-cultural amphibians.
But nevertheless…Christmastime in Minnesota and Wisconsin?
Now that’s a breath of FRESH air. ❤
Dedicated to all of the friends and family that spoiled the beans out of us this past holiday. Your love and support are the reasons that we are able to return and continue in this adventure with recharged batteries and full hearts. We love and cherish you all.