As I write this, it’s muggy and sweltering outside … in mid-December. I’m baking and trying to get in the Christmas spirit, with my decorations from home making the apartment cozy and the lighted palm trees taking the place of a decorated fir tree … and I’m thinking, “I’m going to miss this!”
I have no idea where we’ll be next year, perhaps in the Northern Hemisphere where temperatures are more “normal” for me at Christmas, or perhaps in the Southern Hemisphere, where our palm trees won’t look so unusual.
But wherever we are, I know we’ll be making new Christmas traditions and memories.
All of us (Tom, Aubrey, Scott, Cricket, Sydney, and I) were feeling “out of whack” our first Christmas away from San Diego. For their whole lives, Aubrey and Scott had grown up with a gazillion lights on the house, a creche in front under the tree, and Christmas in almost every room. For three years, we had gone to see the Lambs Players’ rendition of “It’s a Wonderful Life,” and had taken nighttime drives through Christmas Lane to see all of the decorations.
Suddenly, we were in Washington, D.C., living in an apartment, without most of our Christmas decorations (those were en route to Sao Paulo), though I had somehow remembered to pack our stockings! It was clear, we weren’t in Kansas anymore!
But looking back on that Christmas, we all have super-fond memories: buying the smallest Christmas tree we’d ever had and loading it on the Zip car, when we could actually have just put it in the car! Watching “It’s a Wonderful” life at a sit-and-dine theater where we sat in office chairs and ate a meal while watching the movie. And going to Midnight Mass at the cathedral downtown while Mom was in the hospital overnight (a silly story for another day).
The next year, we were in Sao Paulo, where we drove along Paulista Avenue and marveled out the outrageous decorations and the street vendors selling popcorn, lighted toys, and corn on the cob! Christmas Eve fondue dinner eaten not at the table but on the veranda as we watched a 2-hour lightning extravaganza, followed by Midnight Mass at the Benedictine Monastery in downtown Sao Paulo (I confess, we left halfway through…Mass chanted in Gregorian Latin is sooooooooo looooonnnnnggggg!), and seeing the families out at Iberapuera Park at 1:30 on Christmas morning.
In all these places, as in future locations, we will continue the cookie-baking traditions, the decorations, and opening gifts on Christmas Morning after having gone to Midnight Mass. We’ll still start the season with the Rat Pack Christmas album and John Denver and the Muppets Christmas album, and watching “Elf” and “A Christmas Story.” Those are traditions that can’t be stopped.
But I also suspect we’ll be making new traditions and memories. This year, Tom and I will be in town for New Year’s Eve. Perhaps we’ll have to dress in white and jump in the swimming pool, as Brazilians do (well, typically in the ocean) to start the new year. In San Diego, we jumped into the pool as our Polar Bear Challenge on Christmas and New Years. Here, perhaps it will be to wash away our sins and usher in a great New Year!