This is Ro’s and my first Christmas in Belize.
The holiday is widely celebrated here and for weeks I’ve been seeing homes and shops decorated with various Christmas-sy things, which has been amusing and a bit strange, mainly because it’s so hot and sunny and seeing this against the backdrop of palm trees is so different from what I’m used to. Like this tree that went up in the center of town last week:
It’s wonderfully weird to hear carols blasting out of the stores, and to see folks decorating the fronts of their houses with flashing colored lights (what I lovingly refer to as ‘bodega lights’), fake pine wreaths and garlands, and cut-outs of grinning snowmen (c’mon, son). After recently passing the 6-month mark of my move to Belize, it’s awesome to look around at all this and think “I live here.”
I have a long history of Christmas traditions with my family. For so many years in New York there were gatherings with my folks, picking out trees from the tree farms upstate or the street stands brought down from Canada, making a day of hectic (often last-minute) gift shopping with stops in warm cafés and hot chocolates, and decorating our trees with brightly-colored ornaments to soulful holiday music. I’ve loved so much of these moments spent with my family, and I remember them often now as I am away from them. I’m missing that time spent with them, and also thinking about creating new moments here. For me, the holiday season has always been about togetherness, and enjoying time with loved ones. It still means something after all these years to celebrate in some way, and to make new traditions in my new home.
Even with all the differences between spending Christmas in New York and being here in Belize, there are some traditions that remain. Last night, Ro hung white lights in our window and we played Vince Guaraldi’s “A Charlie Brown Christmas”.
It was hot and we were sweating. And we laughed about it, and listened to our music and took photos. And got into the holiday spirit.