Friday, December 16, 2011

navidad is here!

christmas tree at my bank.

christmas in the  caribbean perplexes me. the decorations in the streets and in a lot of houses are mostly what I associate with upper-class new england décor; santa clause is a hispanic man painted white (yes, white. not cream, not peach. white). the stores pipe in the hallelujah chorus and it’s just weird to me. strange.

these go in your yard, apparently. i've yet to see one
that  actually looks nice.
i associate that Christmas with cold, snow, drinking hot chocolate and watching national lampoons christmas vacation on tv. so, when i went with friends to the beach last weekend... well, i wasn't feeling christmas so much. 

there are some things that scream caribbean christmas to me and i l.o.v.e. them. the homemade and recycled displays in the communities (another post just about that). the christmas donkey song: el burrito sabanero and the arandelas de mi christmas exists here, of course. but it's different. and it takes some getting used to. 

the other night we took the kids to the mall for pizza and ice cream (compensation for a rainy day promise to visit the park). on our way home, some neighbors were building a fire in the street to make ginger tea for the neighborhood. everyone chips in money  to buy the roots, sugar and crackers and then share together before bed. we’re usually in the house by the time fun things like this happen, but man, it’s so nice when it happens.
evergreens grow here, but most people use artificial trees for their arbolito

i wanted a tree for a long time, but… well, I don’t like artificial trees. so we’ve never had one. besides, they fall into that weird category for me. when we moved to our new place two years ago I had only heard tell of “street trees” – the barrio christmas trees. then, we had one close to us. it was pretty crappy, so I wasn’t impressed. but we went on a tour looking for trees (it’s like looking at the lights on a cold night!) trees made from recycled soda bottles, from plastic bags, from 5 gallon water jugs. amazing.
my all time favorite tradition though are  seasonal fruit and treat shacks. they set up mid-november, and man, are these places great? apples, grapes, raisins, mandarins oranges, orange slices. when I first moved here apples and grapes were scarce and super expensive. now, in the city at least, they’re fairly common place and only somewhat  costly. at christmas time, though, you can stop by one of these stands and get it all. their lights are on all night and you can  find one on almost any major intersection in Santiago.

we’re in philly now – visiting family and friends – so we’ll be doing all of the philly favorites (light show at the old wanamaker building and that new one; the zoo, reading terminal, visiting santa!) and we don’t get back until three kings day to the dr, but we’ll weave in some new traditions – blending cultures and enjoying the best of both worlds!

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