A Makeshift Chilean Christmas

It came without brisket, it came without tags
It came without 19 types of cookies, without a tree, wrapped boxes and bags
But somehow it came, it came just the same.

Okay, I lie. It didn’t come just the same. I didn’t get my annual family viewing of the animated version of “How the Grinch Stole Christmas.” I didn’t get a bedhead family photo on the stairs Christmas morning. I didn’t get the loud exclamations from my brothers over every gift they get as though they are 5 years old and not 20, 23, and 26. I didn’t get my Christmas Eve dinner of brisket, mashed potatoes, green beans, and chocolate pie. I didn’t get to hear the same Dowell family stories that I’ve heard pretty much every year of my life on Christmas Eve. I didn’t get the au gratin potatoes, jelly jokes, and all-family photos at the Zimmerman Christmas day gathering. I didn’t get to indulge in every type of homemade cookie known to man or participate in impromptu family sing-alongs to Christmas songs.

So yes, Christmas came, but it didn’t come at all the same. But we did our best with what we had. We tucked away the little green foam Christmas trees that came with one of our bus boxed lunches. We bought a tiny nativity scene that depicts the Holy Family as indigenous Andean people. And we browsed the markets until we found red woolen socks that would serve as stockings. Then we got a nice room in a nice hotel (comfortable bed! TV! wifi! jacuzzi tub!) and decorated our desk. And guess what? Santa found us even though we’re tucked away in a nowhere town in northern Chile.

What did he bring us you ask? Well, we got a bag of delicious Rainier cherries, a mini lemon pie, a brownie, cookies and a candy bar, cupcakes that look like Hostess cupcakes but are called Penguinos (penguins), a pair of earrings (for me, not Jeff), and penguin and llama finger puppets. Jealous, yes?

I understand. Because hey, I’m jealous too. Though we made the best of the holiday, I think we both agree that Christmas without family just isn’t the same. Whoever it was that said there’s no place like home for the holidays, well (s)he knew what (s)he was talking about. Next year, I can tell you that no matter where life leads us post-RTW trip, we’ll be home for Christmas…and not just in our dreams.

Merry Christmas, everyone, wherever you are.