The truth about tropical Christmas

I.  Don’t.  Like.  It.

Christmas ornaments on a palm tree

Oh no!  Such bad timing for my bah humbug moment!

Yes, I’ve been writing warm, fuzzy posts about Christmas.  Yes, my house in the tropics has the “Christmas feeling”…but I felt I had to be honest with you.

I grew up with the western European tradition of Christmas.  Jack Frost, gingerbread houses, live evergreens that you cut down yourself.  Christmas cookies, gluhwein, the Carol service on Christmas eve.  Sweaters, scarves, boots, red cheeks. Dashing through the snow. Those were the Christmases of my youth.

Life circumstances brought me to the Yucatan peninsula.  I made a big life here…a hacienda in the jungle, raising my kids, founding an English library and a women’s tennis league.  I was director of a university study abroad program.  But kids grow, jobs end, and life moves on.

Hence my confession:  I have never enjoyed Christmas in sunny 80 degree weather.  Western European Christmas is incongruent with third world, Latino, tropical life.  An evergreen Christmas tree in Costco in November? These trees don’t exist in the tropical ecosystem.  Mexicans love Christmas and put their trees up before Thanksgiving and take them down long after Three Kings Day in January.  By the time Christmas rolls around, your tree is past dead, it is disintegrating.

Christmas carols and the tradition of Christmas music is European:  Bach’s Christmas Oratorio.  Handel’s Messiah.  Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker.  Jingle bells and chestnuts roasting by the fire are completely out of context.  Hearing these songs in the Mexican supermarket is…odd.

It never ceases to fascinate me how  the whole world has adopted the rituals and traditions of European Christmas. You can bet there are plastic Christmas trees in Dubai and Namibia.

I know that many of you freezing in winter climes are tired of grey skies.  You dream of a glamorous Christmas in the tropics.   It seems chic and enviable, something the Hollywood stars and jet setters do.  We love seeing Christmas photos of George Clooney in Cabo, or  Sofia Coppola in Belize.

The charm of a  Destination Christmas pales when you live in the tropics year round.  As I write this, it is 90 deg. F and sunny. You always want what you don’t have. Or should I say:  I want what I don’t have.  I drool over Sally’s Dickensian, spit-roasted goose stuffed with foie gras and prunes.  I love Nette’s winter tramp through the woods on a cold Christmas afternoon.  I can smell Flossie’s clove studded oranges and evergreen swags across the moors.

There.  I had my bah humbug moment.  Now we can get on with the lighting of candles and the drinking of champagne.  Please, feel free to fantasize about me on Christmas morning, sitting on my terrace, listening to the wild parrots chatter noisily whilst feeling the warm sun on my toes.

Wishing you a peaceful, loving Christmas Day.  No expectations is the best gift you can give yourself — and others.   Being in the moment, no matter where you are or who you are with, is the ticket.

xo Liza

P.S.  Please share your Christmas Eve and Day rituals, traditions, in the comment box below.  We’d love to enjoy your Christmas reality!

P.P.S.  M E R R Y   C H R I S T M A S ! ! ! ! ! ! !


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5 thoughts on “The truth about tropical Christmas

  1. We’re spending Christmas in a German castle, but no snow. I missed Christmas and the traditions when we were in Malawi–paltry decorations, 30 C weather, and Santa in a speedo isn’t right on many levels. Last year we were reveling in the sounds and smells of Christmas in the UK–even the crowds in The mall delighted us. The German Christmas markets, with gluhwein, chestnuts, lebkuchen–magical. I think I just need that snap of cold, the dark nights brightened by twinkling lights, the smell of evergreen and the jostling levened by the occasional Frohe Weinachten or Bonne Noel (we’re in France at the moment). Feliz Navidad!

  2. I know what you mean Liza about a tropical Christmas. In the past we’ve spent it on the Gulf and in Mexico. It felt different. I think if you’ve been used to Christmas in a cold climate that will always be a true Christmas to you. Life changes and people move on so as long as you’re with family and friends that’s what’s important. I’m sure you’ll be enjoying many wintery Christmastimes in the future.

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