24 December 2008

Christmas at home

It's been a while since I last wrote, and I feel bad about that, given how often I used to post in earlier times. But such is the way of things.

The last year or so has been busy for me, mostly in the good sense (new girlfriend, new job routine, new places traveled to), but not spectacularly good for news (about the city, or the country or the world as a whole, for that matter). I seem to remember apologizing for a seemingly endless string of depressing political posts. I don't want to do that again.

Christmas season is about to end, thank Jeebus, and truth be told it doesn't seem like "the crisis" has hit that hard. Judging from the sheer volume of the throngs that squeezed along every inch of the downtown commercial streets last Monday (that's when I went gift-shopping myself), there's still lots of spare change in people's pockets for one last spending binge. The soft credits promised by the government have still failed to materialize (and seriously, nobody thinks they will, or at least it's highly doubtful they get past the nicest parts of Greater Buenos Aires) but retired people have got their extra 200 pesos, there'll be a similar supplement for minimum-wage workers and welfare benefits, and it seems the tendency to pay the aguinaldo before the holidays, instead of in January, has caught on.

As for me, I spent an unexpected amount buying little gifts for everyone in the family, which now includes Marisa's parents and her brother's family of three. Back in 2000, when I first got a stable job, and for more than a couple of years after that, I didn't earn enough for such luxuries as gifts, so now I love having the chance, although the act of going around and choosing the actual gifts is still stressful, being such a detail freak.

Since Marisa and I will each have dinner with our own families, and both driving yourself or getting a cab are virtually impossible on Christmas, we exchanged gifts days ago. I promised not to peep, so as to keep the surprise until tonight. There's no-one left at home that believes in Papá Noel (Santa Claus), and of course I don't believe anybody of divine origin was born on December 25, but one comes to appreciate the symbolic importance of waiting until midnight, as is the custom in Argentina, to open the shiny, bow-topped packages and peer inside to see what our loved ones thought we'd find nice or useful.

These days are exhausting, what with the summer heat and the crowded shopping malls and the explosion of red-and-green kitsch everywhere, and it's true that more people than usual feel depressed or lonely at this time of the year. In this sense I loathe Christmas. But maybe we should have more of it. It wouldn't be so special, but maybe one week as each season turns into the next, with less of a focus in overdoing (overspending, overeating, overdrinking) and more of simple expectation and celebration of our continued friendship. Our ancestors (no matter who they were exactly) had a developed awareness of seasonal change; why couldn't we? Imagine four short holiday seasons instead of a protracted one — better for the economy, for our digestive system, and for our inner peace.

Here's to a happy and peaceful Christmas, to all my readers. I'll see you again sooner than expected, I hope.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous17:12

    Over the past few months I've really enjoyed reading your blog and interesting insights about living in Argentina.

    Today, I've launched my own blog about traveling in Latin America. It's called Travelojos. Here is the link: http://travelojos.com/

    Needless to say, I've added your blog to my blog roll. I was wondering if you might reciprocate.


    Steve Roll


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