This year marks the third year in a row of Christmas away from home. Two years ago Christmas morning was spent in terminal B on our way to Hawaii. Last year, Alex and I spent Christmas atop a sand dune with our fellow volunteers in Huacachina Peru. This year will be spent in Central America (Belize and Guatemala).
While I’m certainly not one to want to stick to tradition I was admittedly a bit unsure the first round. Prior to Hawaii, Christmas had always been at home, complete with many associated traditions. I was worried it would somehow be sad, or a let down. I was sure to miss snow, the tree, spiced cider and wrapping presents. But, I didn’t. Not one bit, mostly because I had my family (or in the case of Peru-Alex), but there was also some sense of relief to be able to opt out, and try something new. Christmas as a child was of course, filled with anticipation and joy in familiar things, in the seasons, the smells, sights, and sounds. But as Santa lost his mystical appeal, the holiday changed too. Though I knew Christmas wasn’t really about Santa, the holiday was admittedly a bit less exciting knowing he didn’t exist. As I got older, Christmas shifted to a time to look forward to being able to spend with those I loved most, usually after a stressful semester at college. What we did during that time mattered less than just being together. And so, Christmas traditions could never feel quite as magical as they did when I was a kid, and that’s OK because now we get to enter into a new phase, one that would have been difficult when we were young; a tradition of spontaneity.
The holidays are now whatever we want them to be. A chance to be together, whether that means breaking out the Christmas ornaments at home, or forgoing presents for a tropical get away. And for me, adventures and experiences are usually what are on my wish list anyway. So this year, Christmas morning will be spent in a rainforest casita on Lago Peten Itza, Guatemala surrounded by loved ones, hopefully not too many mosquitos, and perhaps a little subanik.