We walked home after dinner, and the neighborhood was so alive. I wouldn’t say it felt like Christmas, but it was definitely a cultural experience. Everyone was dressed up and cooking chicken or eating something special, blasting music, and shooting off fireworks. And although the neighborhood wouldn’t win any Christmas light awards in the U.S. for class, the spirit and enthusiasm of the flashing lights draped over palm trees would rival anybody.
This morning we opened presents. We didn’t have a tree, just a broomstick that Jacob glued some palm fronds to, and we didn’t buy many gifts. We gave Jacob and Charlotte a budget of a few dollars and helped them buy presents for each other and for us, and we gave them each one small gift and replaced the hammocks that had been stolen earlier in the year.
We decided to spend tonight at our friend’s condo where we went swimming, made pizza, did Christmas crafts, listened to our own Christmas music, watched a little of White Christmas, and turned down the air conditioning so we could dress up in cozy pajamas and pretend like it was cold outside.
Not every Christmas will be like this one. I love the beauty and enchantment that Christmases back home can bring, but I’ve loved the simplicity of this year. And one thing that I’ve loved is how well our kids have embraced the simplicity. Charlotte was so excited about her five-dollar doll and knockoff Lego set that she kept saying, “Thank you Mommy and Daddy and Jacob for getting me these things. I can’t believe you got them for me!” And Jacob’s homemade tree knocked my socks off. These things are beautiful enough for me.