Friday, December 23, 2011

How will you be spending YOUR Christmas?

Ahhh... and so ends my crazy week from hell.  I guess it wasn't really that bad - I just lack the vocabulary to describe it any other more creative way.  I'mma tired.

Since most of my students are taking the last week of December off, I smushed them all into the first couple of weeks of this month so I wouldn't lose the money they would stay consistent.  Word to the wise, Teachers.  You should always insist on rescheduling (by not giving an option!) when there is a holiday.  "Oh, it's a holiday?  Well let's do that class the Wednesday before, then."  FECHADO!

Joking aside, it really is better for your students to stay consistent.

The end of the teaching week means that Christmas has arrived!!!  My first Christmas here was, well, shitty.  We had just arrived in Brazil and I couldn't get over a Christmas with palm trees, celebrated on December 24, with an Amigo Oculto (Secret Santa) gift exchange ONLY, and rice served with my turkey.  I couldn't accept that I was drinking beer, sweating my butt off in shorts and a tank top, and listening to Christmas carols in Portuguese.  It wasn't fair that there was no Santa, no stockings, and no snow.  

I thought, "This is NOT Christmas.  These people don't even know what Christmas is."

Then last year, I went home last-minute because I couldn't handle the thought of another unfamiliar and lonely Christmas.  But my husband couldn't come with me.  And the normal location of our Christmas changed due to the death of my uncle.  So Christmas at 'home' wasn't like any Christmas I as used to, aside from the snow, stockings and Santa (and my wonderful family, of course!).

But it was then that I realized that Christmas could, and would, be different now that I was married, had gained a family, lost some family and shared my life with someone else (and in another country to boot!).  It was a good opportunity to start new traditions and create 'our own' traditions (I'm pretty big on traditions).

This year my therapist really brought it home for me by explaining that Christmas, for many people, is the biggest event of the year because it's the time that we like to 'reflect and connect'.  It's a time to look inside ourselves, evaluate our years, and connect with all the most important people in our lives.  When it's 1000 degrees outside, it's not so easy to come by that 'warm, cozy' feeling - instead, you have more of that 'sweltering, crazy' feeling.  But despite the haze of heat, we foreigners have to summon the 'feeling' of Christmas and re-create it in way that lets us tap into the real reason we love this holiday.  Food, Family and the Joy of Sharing, Giving, and Receiving.  And that can be done just about anywhere!

My advice if you're feeling sad this Christmas?  Try to repeat at least one of the most important traditions you and your family have shared in the past.  Mine is stockings on Christmas morning and opening our gifts one gift and one person at a time.  We're also going to make North American Breakfast on Christmas morning.

But we're also going to have Brazilian Christmas on the 24th!  The key is to combine the best of both worlds and create new traditions that make everyone remember the reason for the season!  (P.S. This is the time of year my Brazilian sappiness really comes out!)
Christmas just isn't Christmas without some cats wearing Santa hats...

So Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah or whatever tradition it is that you like to celebrate!  Here in Brazil, we'll be opening stockings on Christmas morning and going to the beach in the afternoon!  It's a crazy life...


  1. I love seeing your progression with Christmas. (BTW, I don't know if I have ever commented on your blog before, but I have been following you for awhile... along with Rachel and Danielle.) Even if you are in your own country Christmas doesn't always feel like Christmas, like you noticed last year with the death of your uncle, like I am noticing this year with my brother (and only living immediate family member left) over in Afghanistan. My brazilian husband (who really could care less about Christmas either here or there) and I have the plan of watching movies, drinking egg nog, and sharing gifts with the two of us. Ta-da. But come Jan when my bro comes home Christmas will be full on in this house :) I like what you said, though, about taking the best of both worlds. That's how it works for all other things, so this should be no different, right? Although like you, my three Christmas's under palm trees just didn't feel... Christmassy. Oh well. There are different versions of Christmassy. Enjoy yours, eat lots of good food, and do what you need to do to make the Christmas spirit present this weekend. Feliz Natal!

  2. I like that stocking photo ...haha.

    Merry Christmas and don't get burned on the beach! I know here the only thing that will be burning is the tempers of the 10 other people who are invading the house!


  3. Thanks for sharing your Christmases of past and this year. SO much of it reflects how hard it is to adjust to another country, and then even more of it reminds me of my own 20's and 30's...normal adult human development. :-)

    We are going to the orphanage on CHristmas Eve to give them a party, then out to dinner, then chillaxin' on the 25th!

  4. We're going to a Christmas party hosted by an American diplomat and his wife on Christmas Even. Christmas day we'll hang out at home and then see what Brasilia has to offer. Our doorman said it's worth going downtown for.

    Merry Christmas!

  5. @ Tiffany - Thanks for your comments and for coming out of the shadows! I totally appreciate that Christmas feels different sometimes, no matter where you are in the world.
    And Jen - I think you're right. This too is a part of growing up and experiencing life as an adult. Creating new special moments is a great thing too.
    @Alex, haha oh man, hang in there! I hope tempers don't fly too wild.
    Merry Christmas to you all and have fun downtown Meredith!!


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