This is our year of firsts. The first time we drove the Baja, our first hurricane season (thankfully we dodged the hurricane bullet this year), our first summer (stunningly hot), our first Thanksgiving (which we were lucky enough to spend with our friends, Carol, Al, Sue and Tom) and our first Christmas holiday season, which is currently under way – in an understated Mexican kind of way.
It’s a different sort of holiday season for us with the only real sign of Christmas the appearance of a vendor selling Christmas lights on Salvatierra past El Pescador and a very small Christmas tree lot under a tent on the road into town. What has been very nice, though, is a total lack of the Christmas hysteria that pervades the holiday season north of the border. I stopped buying into the holiday shopping frenzy years ago, so the more relaxed and much less commercial feel to the holidays here in Loreto suits me just fine.
But I have to admit that it’s been hard to get into the holiday spirit with the temperatures hovering just under 80 degrees and the palm trees swaying in the breeze. Not that I’m complaining. The weather has been incredibly wonderful. But it does put a damper on the old holiday spirit when you’re wearing flip-flops and sweating like a pig while you put up the traditional Christmas tree. In our case that would be the traditionally fake Christmas tree I load up with lights and lots of ornaments (which always leave me feeling misty-eyed with memories of Christmases past) every year while tunelessly humming old standards like “Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer” or that Burl Ives classic “Holly Jolly Christmas.” I’ve always loved Burl Ives’ rendition of that song, even though he always kind of gave me the creeps. Go figure.
To be honest, I had to force myself to put the tree up this year. I kept coming up with excuses not to do it, which is something I’ve never done before. I’ve always been one of those people who puts up the tree as soon as the Thanksgiving dishes are done. But not this year.
Maybe it was because of the weather or maybe because I knew I wouldn’t be with my family this holiday season. Whatever the reason, I was about to go treeless for the first time in my life when it occurred to me that George and I have to make new holiday traditions here in Mexico to add to the old tried and true traditions we brought with us from the States. Just like we brought (at my insistence) this oversized piece of fake evergreen nostalgia that I put the finishing touches on today. And it’s beautiful, even if does look more than a little out of place in our casa here in Mexico.
I’m already feeling more Christmassy and I expect that feeling will grow warmer and brighter as I take in the Christmas traditions here in Loreto. There’s the day of wrapping Christmas presents at the Internado School and the Christmas Carol Mexican Songs Contest for elementary and junior high kids outside the Mission. This Sunday is the Caritas Christmas bazaar – the same charitable organization that Drew McNabb wrote so poignantly about in his blog, Living Loreto, last week. Those events along with our own traditions – luminarias, green chile stew, posole and making gifts of cookies and candies - are sure to make this a Christmas season to remember.
This year we’ve got just a little bit of the new Feliz Navidad with a lot of the old Merry Christmas. But that ratio is sure to change over the coming years. And that will be a good thing.