With January, 2012 in full swing, we’re fairly certain that our dear readers are wholeheartedly hitting the gym and partaking of the paleo/grapefruit/P90X diet and exercise routines, and other such resolutions that are mere days away from failure. (This blog seeks to speak the truth, my friends, and sometimes the truth hurts.) Those wanting to avoid being “that house” on the block have already packed away the holiday choch in the basement. With that said, please indulge us in one last recap of the holiday season – – with a Chilean (and Costa Rican) twist, of course.
After enjoying Thanksgiving chicken (alas, no turkeys to be found) with Aggie’s mom and some international friends in Viña del Mar, (attempts at explaining stuffing to non-Americans: “You shove it inside the bird’s gut, but it tastes great. Trust us.”), we were ready to kick off the Christmas season and even looked forward to the flood of holiday noise and merchandising that came with it.
Having agreed to purchase one another very small gifts (only buy what you can carry), an excursion to the mall in was in order. We braced ourselves for what was surely going to involve discomfort, a little jostling, and some elbowing (‘queue’ culture has not yet caught on in Chile.) Upon arrival at the mall, however, we found no hordes of shoppers fighting over parking spots, no lines for anything. Just business as usual. Even Starbucks had only one haphazardly thrown together “Christmas blend” drink on the menu. A few department stores had a smattering of holiday decorations, but the mobs of people clamoring over cheese and sausage gift baskets and hand lotion variety packs were conspicuously absent. A subsequent trip two weeks later revealed the same – – At 10:15am, we found that the majority of the stores were still closed. I repeat. Closed. 10:15am. December 16th. Apparently, Chileans do not take Christmas Consumerism seriously enough.
The local news channels did not issue reports of lines snaking around Wal-Mart at 5am. (Being there are no such lines, there’s nothing to report on). Television commercials largely abstained from peddling Christmas Lexuses (or is it Lexi?) and we were thankfully spared renditions of “I saw mommy kissing Santa Claus” by Mariah Carey or the Cast of Glee.
Yes, Christmas south of the Equator is a decidedly more casual affair with traditions focusing less on buying and more on, well, religion and family stuff. Nevertheless, there are plenty of local customs as well. Those turkeys, so desperately missed at Thanksgiving, make their appearance in mid-December, in time for Christmas dinner. Some towns feature parades with the “Viejo Pascuero” (Santa) astride a decorated car/float hurling candy at excited children on the street. And finally, single ladies looking to snag a man in 2012 wear yellow panties on New Years Eve.
In short, we had a fantastically unique holiday experience and want to thank the family and friends who joined us in Chile and Costa Rica to make it so special (with lots of laughs about durian farmers and tossing doggy leftovers over the balcony). Rest assured, however, that when in the US for our next Xmas, we will be mailing out ‘Season’s Greetings’ photo cards depicting us in matching candy cane turtlenecks and snowflake cardigans, alongside Donner (Kaya)and Blitzen (Loca) – – outfits courtesy of Petsmart – – right after we decorate with lights, lots of lights, Clark Grizzwald style. Happy 2012!