La Navidad ha llegado.
I found an old Burl Ives Christmas CD the other day. Tucked away in one of the cabinets of our office at the Hogar. Most likely left by last year’s group, if I had to guess. The Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer soundtrack.
We spent most of the morning Listening to Holly Jolly Christmas (always y por siempre my fave), and the title track of course. DJs Felicia and Dan soon followed up with some christmas jams by ‘NSYNC and James Taylor, respectively. Later that day was the big gift-giving festival for all of the students at the Hogar — toys from mundo de juguetes were distributed throughout all the classrooms, and the young kids were grinning ear to ear as they eagerly awaited being able to get home and rip their dolls and trucks and tea sets out of their packaging.
Everyone here has been ecstatic about the coming Christmas vacation (which began yesterday), and everyone has seemed to exist in anxious anticipation of the holidays for the better part of 3 weeks now. It is the big month here in the Dominican–vacation time, people earn twice a$ much money, and apparently everyone drinks as if there is no tomorrow….
‘Even the people who hardly drink will DRINK in December,’ Abrahan told me one day.
I hardly doubt it’s an overstatement.
The Christmas decorations went up early, and I did not in any way expect to see so much decoration/holiday spirit/fesitivites/etc. in a carribean island, far removed from a prospective of a white Christmas. While the weather may be different, the same spirit is in the air, the same warm, cheery mood. It is intoxicating.
I am going to pause the blog for my vacation (though I have already slowed as of late — such is the fate of any blog), if not simply to clear my head and return to this with a new energy, but to also enjoy visits from family and friends. My oldest amigo cercano in the world (after kid brother Daniel) arrives this afternoon in La Romana, and Thursday my family comes for 6 days, to celebrate Christmas here together. I couldn’t be more excited.
I am especially looking forward to our Christmas brindis. Literally, a toast or offering—my mother’s favorite tradition. Clinking glasses and solemn words. It is both a reflection and a thanksgiving, an acknowledgement of the past and a commitment to the future. Ever since my family told me they were coming down to the caribe for the holidays, this is the moment I have pictured.
And as wonderful as Christmas is (and this Christmas en particular will be), I think my favorite day of the year is New Year’s—for the very same reason I like my mother’s tradition. As arbitrary as the ‘New Year’ can arguably be (for cynics), for me, like many, it is always a time to reflect on what the year has brought me, where I have found myself, what has transpired, and what I want to accomplish moving forward.
A self-reflection, a thanksgiving for the blessings and fortunes of the year past, but also–and more importantly–a time to make new promises and commitments to the future. As futile as many of them may end up being, I still really place a lot of importance on the idea. Maybe it is the optimist in me, but every holiday season I like to think of the New Year as an opportunity to reinvent myself, to better myself, to perhaps remake myself and in turn remake, in some small way, the world.
With that, I eagerly await my friends and family being here in La Romana to celebrate the holidays together and close out 2011. And I look forward to welcoming 2012 – that it may have as much in store as 2011, and that it is as prepared for me as I for it.
Feliz Navidad y prospero año nuevo a todos.