Keeping current in wellness, in and out of the water
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Christmas is such an anticipated holiday in America that it leaves lasting impressions on children. If I dig deeply into my memories of Christmas past there are certain phases that marked my history of celebrating.
The house was small and the farm very big. My grandmother made bread and cookies all the time. At Christmas she cranked up the volume and included cinnamon rolls. We played Chinese checkers, regular checkers, and Parcheesi. Between baking with my grandma and playing games with my grandpa all my wishes came true. I don’t know what my parents did, but I was always thrilled to be in Lincoln, Arkansas at the farm.
Pittsburgh had excellent quality building snow, so my friends and I constructed forts and had snowball wars. We had sleds, toboggans, and ice skates. At holiday break we were free to slip and slide all over town in our preferred method. We did have caroling in the 50’s with people showing up at your house singing and very cold. You were to invite them inside and give them hot chocolate. My mother made fruitcake (of which I was never a fan) and pralines (which were the best).
Special songs of the season, often with no religious connotations, are sung by bands of traveling musicians. The parranda grows as the host at each home visited joins the group and travels to the next home. Sometimes extemporaneous lyrics are created to flatter the host or the neighborhood. My parents were huge appreciators of the art form, and my dad was the boss of all the people in the petroleum camp. For this reason our house was the last stop of the night. The bar would open and the musicians would stay for hours, playing harps, rhythm instruments, cuatros, and guitars.
I had neither funds nor interest in entertaining like my parents had done. I did still like the large crowd festivities, but preferred to make the occasion pot luck. I still love this form of celebrating because each cook showcases something special that they want to prepare. I also like the progressive dinner, which goes from house to house for each course. Those seem to have fallen out of favor today, but they were fun while they lasted.
There is something excellent about paying others to do all the preparations and clean up for holidays. I spent wonderful holidays all over the world, in Chamonix, Swiss ski resorts, and one superb Christmas in Maui. If you have the extra cash and don’t mind traveling at peak times (when I did it the peak was not so hard to take) being in another land with room service can be a really good way to make the holiday season. Instead of making effort at home, the energy and money is spent on the travel itself.
We like to stay close to home and make very little fuss about our December now. I am working hard to clear space and give away old items rather than acquire any new ones. I use seasonal plants for decorations these days because I just don’t bother with electric lights and other time consuming ways to change the decor. We have no tree, and each year I give away more ornaments and outdoor decorative items. Not only are we happier during the season, we have nothing much to strike in January. This year we may zip up to Scottsdale for a meal at Posh and the farmers’ market. This is our family trip with our dog, who adores the FireSky Resort. The low key way to celebrate suits our lifestyle and our budget.
In the tropical part of the world Christmas is celebrated differently. Aguinaldos are songs that people sing during the season. The man above is playing an instrument I have not seen, the Puerto Rican cuatro ( which seems to have 8 strings and be pretty big). The traditions differ, but where I lived in Venezuela, the parranda, or band of musical merry makers, went from house to house singing, drinking and then taking the family with them along to the next house. Unlike Christmas caroling, this parranda gets bigger and more spirited as the night continues. They usually came to my house last because my dad was their boss (everyone who lived in the petroleum camp) and it was fitting that he supply the alcohol for the majority of the evening. They came with harps and cuatros, guitars and furucos, cramming into our large central courtyard and rushing the bar. They made up improvisational songs about our house and our family, a la calypso (which comes from neighbor Trinidad). Many of the songs were funny and had nothing to do with Jesus. Some people think of Christmas and snow, and that is fine, but there is more to December than sleighs and gluttony. Here are some religious Venezuelan aguinaldos. I do like to hear the Mormans ripping a Hallelujah Chorus or two, but I am also very nostalgic about the memory of my tropical Christmas fun. Feliz Navidad!