Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Not Home For Holidays

As an ex-pat I find the holidays, especially Thanksgiving and Christmas, the hardest time to be away from home. In late November I find myself longing for the many traditions that prevailed in my life for over 30 years. Each year I try to replicate the traditional foods I miss the most--fruitcake, rumballs, bizcochitos, turkey, pozole, tamales. However, even though I am accompanied on my mission to merge my past with my present with Christmas songs by El Vez and Tish Hinojosa, it is the camaraderie of cooking and baking with my mother, tias and close friend that can not be replaced. There is not the constant chatter of the newest mitote, stories from the past or the scoldings about rumballs being too large. Instead I listen to waves in the bay softly pounding the sand-- noise that brings me peace but at the same reminds me that I a massive body of water separates me from my loved ones.
My attempt to create the Christmas spirit extends beyond the kitchen as I decorate the house. My cholla cactus with over 500 lights and 100 hand-painted ornaments has been replaced with a few knick knacks collected over the years. The Wihelm-Schweier pewter Christmas tree that graces our coffee table seems so out of place, though its presence transports me to the Christmas Markets in Germany. The memories of freezing toes and gluhwein are a sharp contrast to my current reality of ice-cream and flip flops. The single strand of star studded lights that hang in our window are rarely turned on since the days are getting longer, and we often are in bed before the sun has completely set. I find my attempts to create a familiar Christmas environment comical as the thermometer outside steadily climbs with promises of breaking 40° C (104° F) by Christmas Day.
It is hard to believe that it has been 7 years since we bundled up on Christmas Eve and headed out to walk the neighborhoods of Old Town to look at the luminarias after a meal of pozole and tamales. Instead we have created a new tradition that revolves around the Australian bush. A warm meal has been replaced with cold smoked ham and salads since you can never predict when there will be a fire ban. Our light show, the millions of stars that twinkle against the velvety sky, is accompanied by the carols sung by the birds of the Australian outback. Instead of being in the company of friends and family I am with the love of my life and several kangaroos. I can’t help but wonder, when it is time to move on will I miss these new traditions, and will the have impacted my life enough that I will attempt to recreate them.

1 comment:

  1. What a beautiful post. Offers a fresh perspective on the the cyclical yet changing nature of our holiday traditions