Christmas: Southern Style–Southern Hemisphere that Is

 

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I’ve trudged through many a snowy farm choosing Christmas trees, with my son, to return home and saw off a piece of the trunk to get the correct height, then decorate it with our family ornaments until the tree looks just right: Colin’s homemade ornaments in front along with some that are older than I am.  It’s usually bitter cold, and while we enjoy the tradition, it’s usually freezing outside driving us indoors to hot chocolate and coffee.

This year, I’m staying with Evan’s friends, Sean and Margo, in New Zealand while I do some planning down here for Alvei and the crew, away from my beloved son and snow and freezing temperatures in Nebraska.

Actually, it’s the strangest Christmas season I’ve ever experienced.  The orange tree next door is in full bloom producing plenty for fresh juice anytime we want it while flowers announce the coming of summer in the southern hemisphere.  Even before I left Vanuatu, I found myself staring at the mash up of artificial Christmas trees being sold right next to barbecue grills and sun screen.  All the while, Christmas carols rang through the loud speaker while I perspired and shed layers in the heat. The feeling of cultural dissonance resonated through my entire being, and I liked the confusion of it all.

Margo has already shopped for her grand kids, and mailed off their presents, but she said she didn’t really want a Christmas tree without kids, in the house, to make it special.  I agreed since this is the weirdest Christmas of my life, and I still need to shop for my son when it feels like the wrong time of the year.

A few days later, the idea of a tree came up again, a few times actually, and I thought I’d get out Margo’s tree and surprise her with it.  But then, her husband Sean, and Margo’s daughter, in Australia, started hinting that I do it.  Perfect!  I wanted to anyway.  But, why?  Is it Christmas, or isn’t it?  Everyone says it is, but my seasonal clock says this isn’t right.  Being the open-minded traveler, I’m just going with it until my senses catch up.

Last night the tree came out: pink and about four feet tall.  Still doesn’t feel like Christmas.  The green tree is apparently stored in an undisclosed location.  But, pink will do just fine.  It’s a Christmas tree, and that is the only criterion necessary.  So, in the glass conservatory, with a view of palm trees and swaying grasses from outside, a small pink Christmas tree now glistens in the window.  After I decorated it, we all sat staring at it with the awe a Christmas tree deserves.  That settling in feeling that comes after Christmas decorating a home gently flooded over us.  I guess it really is Christmas.

Have a very pink Christmas.

Happy Holidays to my friends and family back in the states.

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Published by: So the World Goes

What began as a data collection endeavor, following Cyclone Pam, has become an adventure that has taken me from Vanuatu's central islands on to the north, and back, spending time in remote island villages and cosmopolitan cities, all while living on boats. Since I arrived in August, Vanuatu has experienced a 7.3 magnitude earthquake and the jailing of 14 government officials, for corruption, the last of which brought a UN warning of riots. Luckily the latter didn't happen. But, from flying fish to the red glow of volcanoes, I wish this waking dream could last forever. Frequency of Posts While the intention was to blog almost daily, either being at sea or experiencing limited internet access, has put me way behind on posting. The upside is that there are still many stories to share, the lack of internet access being a story all its own. That said, life in a developing nation that toggles between old the world and the new, is both romantic and frustrating. So, please be patient as I must also be. Contact me at lydiaajohnson@gmail.com

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